April 21, 2002
I bought burgundy sheets today,
Wine-red departure from the
Protestant-white linens of my youth,
And, if I'm honest,
Of my adulthood until now.
The purchase was quite unplanned;
I went looking for dishtowels and,
Drawn by the promises of fashionable sleep,
Came out with fitted sheets
And two matching pillowcases.
The woman whose domain the checkout was
Gave me a knowing look, held my selection high,
Proclaimed in loud tones how "special" they were.
I felt heads turning as far as four aisles away,
Even though I didn't raise my eyes to look.
I strolled in artificial nonchalance to my car,
My secret bedcoverings weighing my arms.
Eyes of those I passed zeroed in on the bag,
The red bull's eye logo calling their disapproval,
The blood-dark contents
Showing through semi-translucence.
The bag sat across the width of the seat,
Hard against the opposite door,
The icon of this day's wild impulse,
Hovering always in the periphery of my vision
Like a dirty child that must be taken quickly home.
I drove on, pulse faster by a bit,
Warm with the windows up,
I imagined my naked flesh
Stretched across that maroon expanse,
Spread-eagle white in opposition
To 200 thread-per-inch linen,
Dyed three deep gasps beyond passion's crimson.
I would be naked, eschewing pajamas, the
Modesty of sleep on which I was raised,
Ignoring the body-shame that is a staple
Of all good Methodist households,
My blatant paleness laid out
On the color of original sin.
I lay in bed tonight, still awake,
The doors to my little rooms
Locked tight against the dark,
Snug in crisp white linens fresh from the line,
Loosened the collar of my pajamas,
Smiled as I thought of the package
Of burgundy impulse resting unopened
Next to stacks of neatly folded white,
Safe in the closet where those things are kept.
Who knows -- maybe tomorrow I'll
Put them on the bed.
Surely the day after.