The unmade bed
She sits on the unmade bed, just right
down over her right shoulder, the left
On the floor near her naked, crossed feet
If the scene were contemporary,
to Leonard Cohen, Gillian Welch.
tucked away in the hearth (what’s that shoe
Not English though with that crucifix
French town, perhaps. A miniature,
he’s died or loves another (“Ma chère
have been his? His features swim, she feels
the pretty, floral bedspread, picks out
a blue dress, he a red cape, jaunty
This is how it should have, should have, been.
Your beady eyes take everything in.
In Malaya, a krait slides over your sandal. You read me:
At school, two blue weekly aerogrammes gossip
On long summer afternoons over lapsang souchong,
Once, as I manoeuvre the pushchair, you announce:
to ignore or pre-empt that same old refrain
Harry Ricketts teaches English literature and creative writing at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published nine collections of poems, most recently Just Then which came out from Victoria University Press earlier this year.
Ricketts writes: The unmade bed was prompted by a colleague asking me to take part in an ekphrasis exercise and write a poem about a particular painting without knowing either the title of the painting or the name of the painter. This poem was the result. The painter, it turned out, was Gerolamo Induno (1825–1890), the title of the painting Triste Presentimento (1862), the context the Risorgimento period in mid-nineteenth-century Italy.
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