It's rumored to be made of horse hair, this bed she has slept in since 1977. Bought with the girlfriend, the only one she lived with and I think there was even a story of bringing the bed into the building, giggling like mad because neighbors watched and knew something different was happening behind closed doors in that apartment. (Or maybe that was the Christmas Tree story, another act of terrorism that only two middle aged Lesbians could do to a Jewish enclave.)
I have rarely laid on this bed. I have cleaned, made, stripped this bed, sprayed this bed with Febreze, sat, held and comforted on this bed, dressed, undressed and clipped her nails on this bed. But all the times, thinking she was back on Hester Street where sleepovers were common between friends, when Florence invited me to "lie down and go to sleep" in this bed, I said no.
Her bed, the place she has loved in, lost in, splintered peace with frightening dreams in, climaxed in, refused to cry in, the bed she cradled herself through sleep, the radio playing all night NPR news shows. The bed she bought to begin new life, new hope new love. The bed no man has slept in. The bed where she told herself better futures and worst pasts. A woman's bed filled with poems, poems told fiercely as reality shattered and disappointment flooded.
Soon, tomorrow the new electric hospital bed will arrive with its hydraulic lift for less back-breaking bed bathing of Florence by G. and P. and bars to keep Florence from falling out in the middle of the night. G. and I will somehow coax her from her old bed. I will lie, not in the bed, but to her face. I will say "we are putting you in a special bed just for a little while. Until you get better and can sit up without being dizzy. And when you do and when you are walking again, you'll go lay down in your own bed and then we will go to Coney."
And she will correct me and say "Coney ISLAND. And I will LIE down not LAY down."
And I will nod and know my lie is forever.
*Dedicated to Florence's demand proper grammar be engaged: One does not LAY down. One LIES down.
Ray and Dennis set up the new stage of her life.