The Bed on the Wall
After Robert Rauschenberg’s “Bed,”
oil and pencil markings on pillow, quilt, and sheet, 1955
So garish: the arc of his interior
thinking. So red,
so deceptive. The coordinates of this project fall
between sheets and box spring:
the command of horizontal passage.
The bed soaked
with the overlapping tongue
of his brushes, with pattern interruption, the departure
from edges. Let’s say he is within
his composition. Inside
his story. As he tips
the paint, the objective can be taken
altogether away until he detects
only desire: a rough strike
censured from exuberance. The room remains
with the weeping wreckage
all around, and the panels
in the corner
beaded with aggressive desperate skins.
Below the window, the dirty
city, its permanent
tensed distances, its hungry
catastrophes, its bare
windows. His pillow is creased. It tells everything
we need to know. Each drip, directionless.
Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Camp. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.