The bed was preposterous,
the largest that Verlo had to offer:
A pillow-topped king-sized mattress,
individually coiled for maximum comfort
with an extra layer of memory foam,
over a box spring more intricately wired
than the space shuttle.
That’s what they were buying, he said:
Space to move in asleep.
Space to play in awake –
even if the bed cost them
just about everything they had left
from what they’d received at the wedding.
It’s worth it, he said.
This bed will be a monolith to our marriage.
Upon this bed we will build our church
and boldly go where no two people have ever been,
he said, and other grandiloquent things
until she had to laugh at his enthusiasm,
the bed was so ridiculous.
It dwarfed the tiny bedroom in their apartment.
It ate space like a vacuum,
sucking everything else in the room
into its very Verlo vastness.
It’s our Wallace Stevens bed, he said,
although like lots of things he said
she didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.
Soon the bed became the focal point
of everything they were together,
exerting a gravitational pull
that kept them in constant orbit around it,
and around each other, too,
in those heady early years of exploration
On its quilted surface they dreamed together,
made two moon-faced babies together,
and together planned the house they wanted to build.
The bed followed them to their new home
in a leafy suburb of curving streets and straight trees,
where lawns were spacious
and property lines tastefully defined by privet hedges
for tact as well as design.
The sky there was a giant blue bowl
that enveloped them within its circumference.
Their new house was sided a pastel shade
that reflected the mood of each day,
inviting the warm light of the sun and the cool light of the moon
to climb its walls and peek through its windows
in search of the bed that now rested
against an interior wall large enough for it,
a fixed point in the shifting constellation of bedroom furniture.
And they were happy there, or so she believed,
until the day he moved himself,
his desires and his deceit
to another bed in another house
on another curving street.
Her world spun off its axis in the sweltering summer heat.
The trajectory of their marriage was complete.
He left her a letter on his side of the bed,
To clarify any misconceptions, he wrote.
She wasn’t to blame, but neither was he–
They were bodies in longitudinal opposition, he felt–
(whatever the hell that meant)
He’d come for his things when he found the space–
She lay on the bed and buried her face.
Because he asked her not to, she sold the house
and moved across the county where her sister lived.
The kids protested but relented, as kids usually did.
They helped her with the move, sorting and boxing,
and helped her haul the enormous Verlo bed
out to the curb with the rest of their jetsam.
It looked preposterously small in the glare of the sun.
Do leaves dream of falling
on a stifling summer’s day?
Of finally finding freedom
when the wind whisks them away?
Have they memory of the trees
that nourished them from birth?
That offered them the sun
and the fullness of the earth?
Are those first few hours of leaving
a delirious, fun-filled treat?
Is that why they burn brilliant
and turn cartwheels in the street?
Do they sense what is forthcoming
as autumn sneaks away?
Do they welcome winter’s stillness
and a landscape cold and gray?
I think these thoughts in watching
as my youngest packs his Jeep.
The leaving is the hardest
on those whose roots are deep.
Mike Orlock is a retired high school teacher from the Chicago area who splits his free time between Sturgeon Bay and Lisle, Illinois. He enjoys reading, films, long walks, and keeping up with current events. He recently took up writing poetry again in earnest. He has been married 35 years (and counting) to his wife Liz and has two sons, Chris and Nick, both of whom also enjoy writing.