Fran Davis

Hotel Californian

They went to bed late, newlyweds,
moonlight shining through the window

of their rented room, their legs intertwined
in the sweet sleep of fatigue and love.

When the fog light of June dawn
pressed the window pane

they were hurled from their bed
by a nightmare roar, deepest howl

deep down beneath the earth,
bed and dresser leaping like wild things

her shrieks unheard; 
the room tilted, walls caved away. 

Earth shrugged the building off 
reclaimed bricks, wood, metal;

the careful crafting of commerce
tumbled back to elemental source.

He found her hand and she found his;
through a snowfall of plaster and dust

they stumbled through littered hallways 
everything gone but the memory of moonlight.

After the Edson Smith Photo Collection Santa Barbara 1925 Earthquake damage—Hotel Californian

Frances Davis has written a column for Coastal View News for 25 years. Her work has appeared in the L.A. Times, Passager, Calyx, The Chattahoochee Review, Askew, The Hopper from Green Writers Press, and several Gunpowder Press anthologies. She is a winner of the Lamar York prize for nonfiction and also a Pushcart Prize nominee. Also by this poet: “The Lagoon