Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Robert Rauschenberg
oil and pencil on pillow, quilt, and sheet

Waking, we see the fitted sheet has failed—old elastic
bunched up by our tossing in the summer heat. I barely slept.
Last night, you said we were lucky, always one healthy
to care for the sick one, one calm while the other worries.
One with dreams, the other with a balance sheet.
Here, the fan above turned on so high it whips the air.
A tangle of sheets and blankets, the nightshirt one of us shed
in half-sleep. Swirling on a center like a wilting chrysanthemum.
Years ago, I tried to argue that Rauschenberg’s Bed
the artist painting on his personal sheets, making concrete
the queer life critics would have silenced—was political.
In the margins of my paper, the professor wrote, I’m not sure
I understand what you mean. I was bad, then, at being clear about
what I meant. In those days all I wanted from love was a mirror.  

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