The sound of highways at night
soft whooshing
in the strange dark.
Great big beds looking
right at the television.
Getting to choose supper
from a menu, and breakfast
always pancakes or waffles.

And the pools, the pools!
The smell of chlorine,
the first plunge a reward
for having gotten this far,
the half hour of splashing
a plenty long time,
then washing off the pool water
in the spiffy bathroom with special soaps
then going out to the restaurant
Daddy picked.

One night late
they were undressing for bed
I caught a glimpse of Mother's breast,
they were talking quietly
and sure we were asleep.
I knew I wasn't supposed to see
and I still remember
exactly what it looked like
pale and startling
and the way the shadows,
the quiet voices soothed.

"This looks okay,"
one of them would say as we pulled in,
and Daddy would go to the office
and come back with a key.

We were always headed for the place
where we could stay a good long while
but in the meantime
there were motels.

Later on Mother
asked me one day
didn't I think I was lucky
never to have had much money
because it meant I had to learn
how to make do and appreciate
things that didn't have pricetags.

Well, no, I didn't think
that was so lucky,
but I never told her so,
or how glad I was
we had all those motels.