Sunday, August 2, 2015

Beds

- there've been many,
and I've sworn all of them to secrecy,
hoping mattresses keep their promise.

The one in Stokey

in the house behind the
Abney Park Cemetery

to which my mother, calling from Lucknow,
had said - "When you sleep, do not lie
facing the cemetery,"

though, often
in the evenings

I'd look at our backyard fence
running against the 18th century graves

- where an angel, an urn, a lion,
all contracted in cement, kept
an Anglican hymn-maker, kept 17 year old
world-war veterans, kept a girl who
"left us so suddenly and so irrevocably
in grief" -

and I did not think it was anything
particularly serious to be
facing them while
I slept.

My German and Greek room-mates
often partied, "facing the cemetery."


A year later, the single-bed in King's Cross,

on the fifth floor,
floated above police sirens
and bus horns,

and was stuck to the right wall of
the room that I'd expressly asked "should. face. outside."

the hostel warden - this nice white guy - was surprised,
"you're the first one to ask for a room facing the road,"
"I like the noise," I said. I did not say I'm from a bigger city,
 I'd sooner die than face the "serene," that
little patch of green for more than a day.

He smirked but let me have my choice.

That bed afforded the view
 of Constable churches, of a Punjabi grocer,
a car rental and a Tesco,

and it was on this bed
where we managed to do it
for the first time,

using face-cream as lube.

Sometime that year,
the bed in your downtown house
near Battery Park,

that I knew only for a night
while visiting New York,

where I made plans which were
(presciently) smaller than my hands,

where I looked down into your city

where even
the parking-lot at mid-night
seemed unbelievable to me,

where the bed, holding my knees,
and your umber skin, as you slept,
told me that the tense of desire
is always the future,

one in which no plan survives,
no suture holds,
no love keeps,

one in which you leave me, always,
so suddenly and so irrevocably
in grief

that night after night
beds now
are of a kind,

that have very little to do
with sleeping.

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