Two Poems

Matthew Sweeney

Upstairs

Last year I was going downstairs,
now I’m going upstairs. Up there
is a rocking horse in red velvet.
I’ll dust him off with a crow’s wing,
then I’ll shake the kitchen ceiling.
I’ll jump off in mid-buck, onto
the round water-bed I bounced on
with black-haired, patchouli-scented X
to the drawl of Mick Jagger.
I’ll take the brass telescope to the window
to see if Mrs Voss is still undressing
with the blind drawn to her neck.
I’ll fit together the owl-kite
and, opening the window, I’ll feed
the kite to the sea wind,
wondering if it’ll reach Iceland.
I’ll rummage under the newspapers
till I find the carpenter’s set
my Grandpa bought me, the saw
just right for severing flex.
I’ll take a swig from the hip-flask,
then, locking the door, I’ll switch
the light on, and I’ll start sawing
three inches above the bulb.

The Bridal Suite

On the third night in the bridal suite
without the bride, he panicked –
he couldn’t handle another dream like that,
not wet, like he’d expected,
but not dry either – men digging holes
that they’d fill with water; donkeys
crossing valleys that suddenly flooded –
the alarm-call had a job to wake him,
to send him out from the huge bed,
past the corner kissing-sofa, up two steps
to the shower he hardly needed,
where he’d scrub himself clean as the baby
he’d hoped to start that night,
under the canopy like a wimple,
in that room of pinks and greens.
Naked and dripping, he’d rung Reception
to see if she’d rung, then he’d stood
looking out at the new marina,
as if he’d glimpse her on a yacht.
On the third night he could take no more –
he dressed, to the smell of her perfume,
and leaving her clothes there,
the wedding dress in a pile in the wardrobe,
he walked past the deaf night porter,
out to his car. He had no idea
where he was headed, only that she,
if she ever came back, could sample
the bridal suite on her own,
could toss in that canopied bed
and tell him about her dreams.