Poem 108

this is the nightmare i had last night… thought it might make a good poem

Finger across the hallway
Spaces you expect to be vacant;
touch them with confident hands…
this is the drywall between frames,
a comfortable necessary emptiness.
Now knock twice on the wall,
feel the hollow humming huff—
watch it bend with your interruptions—
watch it curve, crinkle, crack:
a door there, where you least expected…
another across the way, what door there
beside the photos framed, what space could be spared
for such a room within
a hallway. Another door with no knob,
a glowing from the slender creases.
Would you enter that door, would you
cross that margin?
Come away, through the passage, to a dusty space
With a dismembered bed, mirror, sink.
A window with your room inside.
A brass headboard: bent corners, rusty nails.
A heaping duvet, feathers sprawled from a pillow
A ruffled hairline, A still-staring eye—
Perhaps a doll’s eye—
Creep across that floor, to the other side, where a chair waits
Frayed upholstery, sun-faded arms.
Collapse there and watch:
Wait for the door to close, the window to fill
With the day’s obligations… your house through that window…
Occasionally check for a blink from that bedded eye…
Pass a day or several watching… they are looking for you,
Where might you be all this while,
at the cinema, at the grocery, on holiday?
You watch them bustle, hustle, toil
from this window in the wall…
Like a personal television, your very own reality sitcom,
all about your disappearance.
Where have you gone? Who are you with? Where’s the next clue…
Red herring, you bore quickly of your armchair in the corner,
Stand abruptly, disrupt the soon collected dust.
It’s about time you return,
Set an end to this hub-ub… take up your usual post.
Walk directly to that corner,
where there might have been a door…
Knock. Three. Times.
Wait for the expected crinkling, curving, cracking puff
Of a wall breathing out an entry
The great hall should sign an exit for you…
Like last time… like you expected.
But nothing. Nothing at all
Just the hallow thump of aimless knocking…
Hush now, you’ll unsettle the dust…
You survey the room with newly heightened senses
See the disheveled novels in the corner,
The overturned desk,
The half-eaten papers
The round blots of ink, still shining of wet
The green rust on the brass bedframe,
The soft pattern of the crochet quilt
The open goose-down frothing of feathers
The curiously crumpled mounds of duvet
A dark mass of follicles,
The once vacant eye, now collecting your image,
It might have been a doll’s eye… but not anymore.


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