Sleeping on a waterbed


I think I’d prefer the straight stiff bed
in your other spare room but it’s covered
with books and a typewriter. Already

I’m calculating how in the night I’ll get up
out of the waterbed, out of the waves
and come and lift the typewriter off and the books.

So I lie down, dead centre, with the duvet
which is the colour of water seen through wharf slats
that unbelievable turquoise, so deep and sinister

and nothing happens until I turn
and in my ear an immediate susurration
a tiny curled up and released wave

that a shell, perfectly gauged to my weight
and my turning, releases to run to
the edge of the mattress as if a shore

awaits by the boards. Amazed I turn
onto my other side – this is like
swimming and holding the mouth agape

in the protection of an arm – again
the shoreward sound, the perfection of
this sea-simulated measure for measure.

from Red Shoes, Te Mata Estate poet laureate 03 (Godwit, 2003), © Elizabeth Smither 2003, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.

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