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The Lincoln Bedroom

 I have confidence, Peacock, and my eyes are soft.

The chairs, Queen Anne, the tables of night,

            The beaded lamps, square pillows, more

symmetric that the human heart,

headboard of leaf-like nothing

that can ever form.

As you love this bed it makes you think

of the other bed,

so short they had to lay him out

diagonal. The paintings of people,

ghosts coated with oil.

But then to one side

the chair of a child, who’d faced the bed

and answered questions.

Ceiling high as the thought of elephants,

great living flowers, a plate the size of a head.

Glass globes, an even ten, you can’t stop counting.

Mirror, too, that doesn’t reflect

so much as suck,

with curtains, metaphors for resemblance

smeared with love, a marble table,

four sad books

resting there like people

fresh out of the loveseat, pale, pretending

the rug is the sea, it looks like something strong and wet,

the bed a big black battleship, only

a hockey puck black—if only

you could catch it—this is where

I was without my normal

hesitation, almost

alone, the stomach swelling like a sponge.

“There’s two of us,” I wrote to myself,

afraid it might seem loud.

This article originally ran in the July 12, 1999, issue of the magazine.