Brooke Bailey

The Divorce Bed

Faux wrought iron raises up four weathered arms
barred together by ivy spirals—a canopy
to cover me, having inherited my mother’s divorce bed
purchased as a throne, a shroud, a queen-sized place of leisure
where she could rest after expelling her fallen king
from the spent and ruined kingdom.  When I lay my head there
I absorb anxieties about my lovers from the mattress
where the hatchet she buried reaches up and wounds me,
a blade teasing my skin from just below the surface
enough to remind me that it’s there
like a ghost that barely swipes
your hair from behind, making you think that you’re crazy, that it
could be the wind, that you can’t be sure of anything.
In my reign, this is still a place no man
has been.  The pillows are scented with a soft
sandalwood, a waft of ylang-ylang, a woman’s scent
that’s not my scent.  I am wary of celebrating a new
love here, knowing this to be no wedding tent
but she advises me that regardless of where it happens
in our era, anywhere you choose to enter into monogamy
is dangerous at best.  Outside our door a chorus sings—
no virgins in white robes, but those that know of sacrifice,
those handmaidens who do not blush at the thought
of what will come when night falls and they’re told
that they can go.  Lips against the inside of knee and wrist,
white teeth biting down on broken skin, a hand directing a face
towards eager skin with the pulling of the hair.  Over time, the fights,
the distractions, bed death and resurrection, a Lazarus with falling breasts, an old
but faithful dog laboring to learn new tricks to bring her lover home.
What was the divorce bed has been consecrated again
but even as it creaks with the building of our passion
it still holds a soft chiding, a gentle threat
like those nursery rhymes about the plague the children sang
until those words they used and didn’t understand
exhausted them into their last rest.

Brooke Bailey holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various publications, including Sidereality, Defenestration, and twenty20 Journal. When she is not writing, she works as a corporate trainer in the insurance industry.