There is a bed.
There is a bedside cabinet,
a clock. There are no adjectives.
Whiteness is painted on two walls,
on two walls there is wallpaper
with boats on waves.
There is a window, a window
sill. There are no curtains
but blinds. There is a desk,
a desk chair. There is nothing on the desk.
There is a wardrobe, whose door
is closed. There is nothing else.
If we draw the blinds, open the window,
let adjectives in, we can see
there is not much bedness about the bed,
sloped and low, no view out the window;
not much you might call beddy-bye
with sheets a bleached who cares non-colour
as if ironed by an enormous
angry iron: you wouldn’t dream
of sailing the high seas in there.
The cabinet could bore description to death
and the clock can no longer face
blank nights, the stale air.
The whiteness painted on two walls is off-
white the way a joke can be off
or a person. The window blinds snigger
like blades, cutting the anonymous room
from the anomalous moon-shaped streetlamp
floating on the black sea of night outside.
I ate crab claws on a boat that set out
from Donaghadee towards Fort William
once and it was awful, the sea a grey
soup of seasickness, sky a freezing fog.
The dippy orange yellow-submarine-style
cartoon boats on the wallpaper are off
on a repeating trip over abstract
wave lines that jag symmetrically
rather than crest, repeating at ten
centimetre intervals. One might guess
that if anything was written on
that desk it might be gibberish but we
shall refrain from prejudicial speculation.
A lifetime of work to own a house
then you end up diminished by it.
A lifetime of work to find a voice
then you end up imprisoned by its
drone when you try to rise
to the occasion. Keener readers
will have noted there is no floor,
no ceiling. I recall standing, feeling
I was sinking, outside a bedroom
window one freezing dawn, the sky a grey
formless soup, having paced the night
to nowhere in particular – to this
window – I suppose thinking if this is home
then I’m at sea, at sea. At intervals
from then to now I have set out to find
walls, a row of rooms, strange worlds
within the wardrobe, whose door is closed.
About this poem
This poem was written as part of 'The Blue Crevasse' project, which marks the centenary of W.S. Graham in 2018. The image of a blue crevasse famously appears in W.S. Graham’s poem ‘Malcolm Mooney’s Land’, and the author’s estate welcomed the idea of creating a similar metaphorical space where admirers of the poet might, in a sense, be lowered for a month’s solitary ‘residency’.