The Night Porter
… ancient Janus, with his double face
And bunch of keys, the porter of the place.
— Dryden’s Aeneid.
As he hit the step my head would spin
so that my angrier face met his, so that
my easier face could live, Janus-like,
in the lodge’s glaze of video-screens.
Looking up from numbered drawers,
the keys pretended not to see. Each
would hug its copy close as I exhumed
the master-bunch, and flung it down —
all eyes and teeth mixed up — both my
faces grinning at his “Fuck off, Irish git.”
Against stocking-heads and balaclavas
our security-cameras trolled over buddleia
and pergola, though all we ever knew
were blemishes of black and grey — inscrutable
as those the experts probe for origins
of life, the sunless bumps of abyss-walls
taken by the upside-down robot-vehicle.