Sarah Corbett

Four Poems

The Burning Bed

After Freud

This is sleep, this trick, mind viscous
as a bubble of air from a diver, and where
you come to find me, as if I were lost,

your head in flame, your hand on my arm
a fever hand plucking at my sleeve. The door
to your room is a cast peeling from the dark,

a house crumpling like a sheet of lit paper.
And it comes to this: when you were six,
awake downstairs, you saved your father

from his burning house – you now re-stitched,
a refugee from walls black with fire –
windows bulbous as water exploding onto the street.

Connectives, filaments, scribble of wire, spirit map,
this stutter and rush, one spark arcing free
onto your bed; then, ash fragments, petals of cloth.

I have left you somewhere out of sheer forgetfulness:
the motorway’s weedy bank, a city falling
to ruin, a path across moorland, a forest.

The phone rings, urgent: you are in electricity.
I see you picked out in miniature on gold plate.
To have you in this world there is something I must pay.

You lift the covers and slip in. You radiate,
mouth against my ear, Mother, I am burning. Tears
slide to the pillow and evaporate. That voice again: wake


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