Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day Fourteen - In Praise of My Bed by Meredith Holmes


At last I can be with you!
The grinding hours
since I left your side!
The labor of being fully human,
working my opposable thumb,
talking, and walking upright.
Now I have unclasped,
unzipped, stepped out of.
Husked, soft, a be-er only,
I do nothing, but point
my bare feet into your
clean smoothness
feel your quiet strength
the whole length of my body.
I close my eyes, hear myself
moan, so grateful to be held this way.

---Meredith Holmes

In Praise of My Bed by Meredith Holmes

Meredith Holmes gives us a praise poem in the tradition of Pablo Neruda's odes to common things. Like Neruda, Holmes delights in a simple, yet essential act: sleeping. But not just any slumber will do; Holmes wants her own bed and she wants it now! I can sympathize with her. This is one of my own busier seasons of the professional year where I'm traveling around the country and often longing for my own bed, as well as the friends and loved ones that can't travel with me from city to city. And to make my connection to this poem even stronger, I would put clean, crisp, sheets on my bed at the top of my list of favorite things in the world. There is a certain comfort that I feel nowhere else when I'm tucked into those fresh sheets of my own bed, laying back for a snooze and hoping for memorable dreams to last beyond my first few moments of wakefulness in the morning. Ben Franklin would tell us that "Fatigue is the best pillow" and this might be true, but like Meredith Holmes I still want my own pillow and my own bed.

There is an underlying dark humor to Holmes' poem. She pokes fun at herself from the very beginning, noting that "At least I can be with you!" in reference to her bed. It's humorous, but it's also quite dark and reveals an undertone of lonely sadness. Still, the humor is far more distinct early in the poem than this darkness. Holmes exaggerates the stresses of being human, such as "working my opposable thumb, / talking, and walking upright." After facing these challenges, Holmes has the reward of her bed. First, before seizing her reward she must perform that time honored tradition of the undressing, or in her case "unclasped, / unzipped, stepped out of." And now she can settle into that cloud-like apparatus that knows exactly how she likes it. Likes sleep, that is :). The poem ends with the same dark humor that it began with. Holmes pauses in her moment of sheer joy to "close my eyes, hear myself / moan, so grateful to be held this way." Her bed just might be better than any other companion, or she doesn't have a companion so the bed is taking his/her place. Either way, Holmes has constructed a poem that praises, describes, builds, and pays off, similarly to the way a good bed can. I can feel the bed Holmes melts into like a pad of butter on a warm scoop of mashed potatoes and I can hear her gentle moan because I've had it tumble slowly from my own mouth before.

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