I've had Shakespeare on my mind since last week, but have settled on this Carol Ann Duffy to share because it's so damn smart and romantic. Also, sexy. Her World's Wife is one one my favourite collections, and this one of the best. She chose it for a reading when I saw her speak at last year's Sydney Writer's Festival. Her pacing, her tone, her rich and acerbic voice - it was so good I stopped her as she was walking back along the pier later to say thank you.
'Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed ...'
(from Shakespeare's will)
The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas
where we would dive for pearls. My lover's words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights, I dreamed he'd written me, the bed
a page beneath his writer's hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love -
I hold him in the casket of my widow's head
as he held me upon that next best bed.
Carol Ann Duffy