Despair is the night porter
Crouched in his scuffed cubby-hole
You met him in that seedy hotel
The year the Seine almost swallowed you.
You were getting over that first guy
On a budget that didn’t allow
A croissant or a breakdown.

He was the only alternative
With his moist eyes and cracker crumbs.
He inveigled you to sit by his gas fire
With stories of a doomed life and the war…
Distrust everyone: nothing gets better,
And even a naked light bulb
Has something to hide.

Don’t exaggerate: it wasn’t a life sentence
You moved on, settled for plush happiness,
Wore the silk shirts, did the jive
With Yves and Jean-Marc and whoever…
Had pretty children, played the hostess
To men who sent postmodemism
With the flowers.

But lately you’ve been seeing
Night porters again. In unkempt moments
On your way through hotels,
Their tortoise eyes latch on to you.
They lift those stained kettles
Off the piles of directories
And search for your name
In the displaced persons’ file.