Nathaniel Perry, Editor
Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review
Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
- Stephen Dunn
All he wanted was to lie down with her
on a real bed in a house in which all the terms
were theirs, something he thought reasonable
because nothing else made sense or felt as good.
He had constructed the house as the world
seemed to allow, blueprints true to code,
six steps to the front door, a solid railing
to grip if you might find yourself on some verge,
and a foyer that led to stairs at the top of which
was their bed, a king-size and queen-making
downy bed with pillows monogrammed
Lucky and Hers.
He wished for desire
and deep sleep, and thought the world would comply
because, after all, he was only wishing
for what had been granted to others with lives
like theirs, but the world had a stake
in everything under roof and sun, and an affinity
for the real. It seemed to be waiting for doubts
to arise - a few maybes to lodge in the man's mind.
Their lovemaking was wild and inconsiderate,
windows open, un-neighborly - wonderful,
in other words. When they woke, they were
on the floor, naked and cold. They hadn't fallen,
it was just that the real bed in the real world
had cast them out. Crumpled and stained,
its covers roughly pulled back, hospital corners
loose, it was as if a general lack of respect
had been shown (the man could see that now).
It was uncomfortable on the floor,
and the man hated discomfort. The woman
had prior experience with positions like this.
This is what happens, she told the man,
when someone wants too much what he wants.
But while the woman was desiring
something that felt more like home, the man
was thinking doors and ways out,
an architecture of escape.
started to creak, complain. He began
to understand that even the most perfect house,
built with sweat and dreams, would never
wholly be theirs. She suggested they build
a smaller house, a house that could
be better controlled, perhaps with a cot
instead of a bed in a tiny room,
and on it quiet love-making the night long.
If the world could smile, it would have.
If the real could speak, it would have said—
perhaps through its teeth—Yes, good,
in time they all settle, come around.