In the bedroom


Artwork: Howard Hodgkin, Bedroom, 1968

The fifth in a set of poems entitled Lovers’ Quarantine

‘In the bedroom’ continues the near-apocalyptic imagery of a fruitless Spring introduced in ‘Daffodils’, and incorporates playful rhyme patterns.

by Fred Baxter


It is the squirming white

that wakes us

with its cracking mirror

of glass-ice;

its frosted staccato

threatens to flood the bedroom,

turn it into glaciers

and ice rinks,

faces lacier with priced pinks,

or hazier ice-cream memory

of ice-think; and look,

outside a gulping earth

is churning up its

underground lineage

to find space for snow;

revolving its mealy axis and

stealing time’s zealy tactics,

it crunches the crosshatch of stems

and leaves the beginnings

of tangled blooming

among flowered ground,

strangled looming

of the spring to come,

yes, it has leaked through

the cracks in the window casing,

and some hiding

in the pillow casing, there are

crystals on the floorboards

and a snowfight

in the sock drawer;

minute by minute among

outside whirling and turning and

gusty sideways pearling

it creeps upon us,

leaps onto the ceiling

and drops down with

heavy fingers, and having

roused us with their

icy tickle, giggled

sleep for themselves,

curled up in beams and in

woodcrack’s ancient seams.

But we hold, a sculpted duet

under a vaulted blue net of ice,

hold tight like married screws

and kissing spoons,

a winter-cold poem

at the bedstead head,

but held tight inside,

and so warm his breath

upon my neck.


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