SAAM Feature 14: Laura

Whistler’s Mother at the Farmer’s Daughter

by: Laura Tattoo

Lincoln City, Oregon 3/31/09


Always pulling in just before 10,

always on the edge, always phoning

and confirming, yes, we’re on the way,

wait for us, please, we’re just around the

bend between right now and then, we’re

driving fast as wind gusts pummeling glass

and we’re hungry and tired and pressed to

 the max of our endurance, we know

we’re on the clock, we just need a bed

and breakfast, our needs are few but

we require your patience, we’re

old and slow and and one of us is ill

and can’t seem to think out loud when

it comes to packing bags and the odd

stuff it takes for a weekend south of

us where me mum lives all by herself.


Now at the Farmer’s Daughter, the hotel

renamed for its Los Angeles twin, and

that is what I don’t get at all, it’s

some kind of joke, right? and yet it’s the

same room as before, a West Bester, a certain

je ne sais quoi, beachy charm and ultradeep

European tub and a porch outdoors where I

can smoke my heart out, and I’ll need it too

because Moineau does not sleep in hotel

rooms, she sits on the bed with the TV on

and sweats, under cover, incognito in a

hooded vest, she’s shy and unassuming,

tries hard not to draw attention to herself

as she shuffles down Hall A to Room 123

but in the end can’t swing it because she’s

Moineau of a secular order, who sings

odd songs in the morning, then acts out

a play with multiple characters and it’s a

sham of a spectacle of a dance with a stranger.


Up all night in the streetlights with red-hot

poker eyes, she hears footfalls and wild

animals, she’s shivering frost and then burnt

as toast, what the fuck difference does

it make when you’re shaking in your fuzzy

slippers in the bush, searching the dirt for

your lost little girl and someone shouts,

“Look out below!” and you fall down a rabbit

hole like some paralyzed Alice and you can’t

wake up out of the nightmare you hate and

every time you find yourself in that bitch of a

room, they’re all the same, the kitchen, the

bed, the carpet, and nothing will help, not

warm milk, not chocolate, not spooning in

the bed, no, thank you, no touching, please, i

think I’ll leave my body for a bit and go and

have another cigarette, it’s so hot, isn’t it?

damn, I’m like a lobster in a pot, a sparrow in

a cage, and oh god, the hotel is on fire!

“Just joking,” I say, as you put back the ear plugs

and pull the mask down over your face.


Ok, i have to tell you flat out, the bastards had

me on that motel shelf and I became fœtus:

I curled myself onto the center of the bed, no

blankets, sheets wet and just slept and slept

and slept and slept, until one came back in and

said, “I’ve found you a nice place to sleep tonight,

i found you a place, in the bushes!”


Suddenly it’s morning, and a wakening light begins

to stream through the long, wide blinds and

gold-yellow curtains, and Moineau knows she’s

survived another night by staying very quiet

and just giving herself over to tv movies and

poems and, even if her cough is bad, heck, even

the cigarettes helped, and somewhere down the

hall a man begins whistling, no tune at all, just

a shrill, long, proud noise, and now, Moineau is

opening her throat, she’s wetting her mouth and

out comes a whistle from hell, and there’s laughter

between us, like, where did that come from?

“Whistler’s Mother at the Farmer’s Daughter!”

and before you know it, there’s a comedy

routine and a crazy song about Willy Nelson on

democratic principles and the weird women who

adore him, and now we’re hysterical, repacking

the bags and eating fruit snacks and checking

every nook and cranny for our socks and cash,

leaving the maid a fat old tip, and then we trip on

out the door until the next time we need dreams

and succor at the Farmer’s Daughter.


~ 4/4/09

What Others Are Saying

  1. Margot Apr 15, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Visit Laura’s website :

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