I’ve included images here of Tracey Emin’s exhibition ‘She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea’ at The Turner Contemporary in Margate in 2012 that I found at the following blog https://commentsonculture.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/tracey-emins-she-lay-down-deep-beneath-the-sea-at-the-turner-contemporary-in-margate/ as well as an image from The Seinfeld twitter account “I’m trapped under a funky mattress’
The third poem in the ‘Consultations With My Mother’ series… This one has been in my head for a while. Mum told me this story months ago, but in my head it has stuck. She read it and said it could be a comic strip… I agree. I’ve written it from the images that pop into my head when I think of her wrestling with that enormous mattress. I’m trying to get her to draw it out…
III – Corpsing
I was trapped… for hours
Oh! Hello Mum
What are you talking about?
The huge mattress, my mattress, you know on my big bed.
You tried to move it?
Yes. I’ve decided to get two single ones instead. Easier to clean.
You tried to move it on your own?
Well no one else was going to help me.
(my mum is all of 5ft and ½ an inch tall)
Yes. I needed to get it downstairs.
To put it on the pavement. For the council to collect.
(silence from my end as I process this information)
Yes, well it wasn’t very easy. Once I got it off the bed, that took long enough, I had a right sweat on, pulling and heaving it. Then it was on its side and it kind of fell on top of me.
(I laugh, a kind of strangled noise)
I was trapped Eleanor! Pinned against the wall by a mattress.
(the strangled noise continues…)
I could have died and no one would have found me!
What did you do?
(I manage to squeak)
Well I lay there panicking and struggling for a bit…
Then I had a rest to conserve my energy. Maybe an hour, I’m not sure.
Well after I had thought about it for a bit I really concentrated and with one big push, managed to get out.
(the image of my diminutive mother trapped under the bigger than super king size, hand-made feather mattress in her bedroom, on the third floor of her crazy house, suddenly makes me laugh uncontrollably)
I don’t know why you’re laughing.
(she starts to giggle)
That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard…
(I’m now wiping tears from my eyes on the other end of the phone)
Well that’s not the half of it. Then I had to get it down three flights of stairs.
Mum, stop, you’re killing me…
The bend was a struggle, and the little bannister bit.
Then it got wedged
(she’s on a roll now)
It took hours, all afternoon
Ah man (snort) you really are something else.
Well that’s not the best bit.
Yes well I got it outside after it was dark, of course. The neighbours.
What do you mean, ‘the neighbours?’
Well I didn’t want them to see.
Noooooo. The stains!
(she says this in a stage whisper)
Mum, seriously… you are pulling my leg, right?
No! I can’t have the neighbours knowing all my business.
(I’m off again)
But that wasn’t what I was going to say.
I had to check it in the night.
I just had this feeling, in my bones as I lay in the spare bed. It’s a good job I did.
The mattress had fallen over, across the pavement and into the middle of the road. The stain visible to everyone under the streetlight.
(That does it. I’m unable to breathe or speak)
I had to push it back up against the wall.
In my nightie!
(with that perfect image in my head, I’m gone)
Words copyright Eliot North 2016