We Killed the Bed

Hadara Bar-Nadav

The bed on which we slept. The bed on which we dreamed. The bed on which we fucked. The bed on which we sweated, read, and watched TV until we were bored — the Housewives of New York, New Jersey, and Beverly Hills. The bed on which we drank beer and cried.

The bed we bought in Butler, New Jersey when we first moved in together. The bed before we got married, before we tried to get pregnant again and again. When sex was just sex. Two bodies enjoying each other for the sake of joy. O happy machinery.

The bed on which we got pregnant six years later. The bed on which I bled. The bed on which we lost our baby girl, after we had heard her heartbeat.

After the miscarriage, we needed a new bed. I couldn’t sleep there anymore. We never talked about it, why we suddenly needed a

new bed, what our need was made from: red threads of grief, hot coils of loss snaking up through the mattress. The end of rest and ease. And then we were on our way to a Macy’s Furniture Store, a giant free-standing box in the giant parking lot of a giant shopping mall in Kansas.

We entered the sprawling store, sunblinded, disoriented. We were the only people for miles in a massive vacuum of sad furniture. We stumbled around to the mattresses in the far right corner. Could we dump our grief here? Could we bury it by the cash register or behind a display of credit card offers with select financing? Grief with an impossibly high interest rate.

Sealy. Serta. Beautyrest. Gel. Pillow Top. Memory Foam. Queens and kings. Look: now we are royalty. The beds make us promises: sweet dreams. Rest. The perfect night’s sleep. We know we will never again have these things.

We talk to a young salesman, who only wants to make us happy. Who only wants our money. He is blond and toothy, apple-cheeked, as if freshly picked from his parents’ farm. We do not say, My husband and I have agreed without talking about it that we can never sleep on our old bed again; or, Our baby just died, and we feel absolutely crazy and sad and alone and scared we will never have a child; or, Our bed is a death trap. Instead we ask, Where are your hardest beds? We are trying to support our ever-lastingly achy backs, or we are trying to punish ourselves for having hoped for a family, or we are trying to erase ourselves, our skin, our loss.

The bed on which she died. The bed on which we felt like dying. Her death like a blanket threatening to smother even our dreams.

Hadara Bar-Nadav is an NEA fellow and award-winning author of several books of poetry, among them The New Nudity and Lullaby (with Exit Sign), She is also co-author of the best-selling textbook Writing Poems, 8th ed. She is Professor of English and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.