The bed needed a new orientation. Mildew had flowered on the window panes. Stink bugs had built their incubators and mausoleums in the corners of the wells. All of that had to go. Vacuum and cloth, then clean linens, then the pillowcases with the dragonflies and tiny birds in butter yellow, in the green of ferns.
Now, the head of the bed is to the wall under the cascade of family photographs. Its foot is closer to the windows. The wintry morning light, low in the east, falls through the sheer curtains and rouses me to meet the day.
It is a fine thing to nestle into a heap of feathers and foam, to unfurl the tucked wings of a story. A whole sack of gold is nothing compared to a long moment’s gaze out at a hazy day. Up above, four sepia 8×10’s in their mismatched frames keep a gentle watch. Grandfather, grandmother, father, mother. Such smiles on those faces! And each of them, so young, so very bright.
Now, as before, we share a name.
For eighteen months, I kept them near my feet. Their gazes were unsettling. Their judgment, subtle. In another time and place, I would have stayed. They all did.
When the bed found its new direction, something else slid with a whisper into its proper alignment. From this place, their smiles are guileless. Patient. Even kind. I have stopped looking at them now that they linger above my tousled cocoon. Their presence is still palpable, but less worrying. They are in the place I don’t let my gaze linger: back, behind.
Here, just flesh, just bed. I settle the weight of my 38 years into the embrace of the day as it begins to stir. I feel the give and accept the invitation. My eyes drink in the quiet light, the quilt warming my skin, and the page as it breathes awake, opening in my lap.