Monday, May 28, 2012

Changing beds (A poem)

it's Monday, which means the beds are due for stripping.
(which sounds salacious, but is in fact an act of the most anodyne innocence
the most prosaic and dampening necessity).
she pulls the sheets loose, eases pillowcases over lumpy, yellowing foam
a fingernail snagging in one and ripping loose.
she curses quietly and puts the bleeding finger in her mouth
sucking the iron-salt blood free.

a vast pile they make on the floor, a pastel heap
of flannelette and cotton, with one frivolity in silk.
lightly soiled, they'd be tagged
if this were a washing powder commercial, and she a be-rouged and be-ribboned housewife avatar
with gleaming teeth and perfectly tan trousers.
She regards the cloth mountain solemnly, then laughs
as the three-year-old throws herself with delighted chaotic intent
into the middle, and demands "Can y' see my sheet angels? Huh, can y'?"

Remaking is more effortful and frustrating than laying bare.
(Especially for the raised beds. Oh, those beds -
such a fine idea they seemed, before the first linen change).
She sweats, trips and curses again, less softly,
as she wrestles the tight-fitted sheets over the mattresses.
She replaces covers and pillows, soft toys and books
torches and oil pastels;
the detritus of low-light and bedtime.
She runs her hand over the covers, smoothing out wrinkles
(another always pops up elsewhere; there is no finishing it, but after a time it bores her, and she stops).

It is a job with pauses; a job she dislikes
despises, even
the result never quite what she hopes for, the real heart of it unseen, and unremarked,
invisible. its only virtue
(besides the avoidance of squalor, which is an end in itself, of course)
the wind-dried smell of the fresh pillowcases in her air tonight

and perhaps, with that scent
that mingled jasmine and lemon blossom, sweet and clean
wild dreams will come.

- Kathy, 28/5/12

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