'Your Bed' by Lucy Dougan | States of Poetry WA - Series Two

For my mother

The young men,
friends of our middle one,
camp nights in your bed.
Some leave it with hospital corners,
some leave it like a lair to revisit
and some make cocoons on top.
In most cases
they are shaping up.
On kitchen raids
they all report sound sleep
and I wonder what it is
that breaches their dreams
as they lie down
in this last contracted room of yours?
Can they imagine your life?
Is it the patina of photos, letters, legend –
all that dense action –
that guards their rest?
I wish for an instant
that I could share with them
my montage of you:
the stout baby with black curls,
the girl smiling with her shoulders hunched
at the Southern Ocean,
the young doctor tending
someone in an iron lung;
and sometimes our mother,
simply our mother,
in the garden,
white glints in the air,
flowers that have floated off your dress.
And now abrupt Trojan old age.
No, they don’t see it.
They can’t.
But part of this is what keeps them
coming back, I think,
that and the allure of your
strange come-and-go arrangements.
At fifty-one
I’m thankful
for every second
you have been away
and shown us all
that there is still life
to be lived
beyond convention.

Lucy Dougan

Lucy Dougan

Lucy Dougan

Lucy Dougan’s books include White Clay (Giramondo, 2007), Meanderthals (Web del Sol), and The Guardians (Giramondo, 2015), which won the WA Premier's Book Award for Poetry in 2016. She holds a PhD from UWA on representations of Naples. She currently works as Program Director for the China–Australia Writing Centre at Curtin University.

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