Friday 3 February 2012

The Lovers on Wee Fictions - Jim Murdoch


The Bedroom In Summer

Returning to an unmade bed
during the sixth hour

there seemed to me
a shifting calm

flowing through those places
where our bodies met.

Between thin shadows
cast by white shutters

echoes of bells and
familiar sounds

like merging rivers.

The Bedroom In Autumn

It felt older.
But so did we.
And the rhythm of life was slower.

Even the bells hung
in the cooler air
to open the way for echoes past.

Now the fading shadows
reach out to the tired bed
as if just to touch us one last time.

The Bedroom in Winter

Why is it so cold and as empty as a shroud?
All the life has fled from here,
there's nothing left but shadows of the past.

The bed is still here, uncovered,  and I miss you
though the bells no longer peal.
I was looking for some sort of testimony to love

but it was never more than a bed, was it?

The Bedroom in Spring

(for Jeanette who I made cry)

And in a moment of silence
between the two great silences
we drew each other close to try and show
what words alone could not reveal.

And in that room, upon that bed
surrounded by so much remembered love
we understand without a word
that one day we too would return.

*     *     *

Jim Murdoch lives just outside Glasgow. His poetry has appeared in small press magazines on both sides of the Atlantic for nearly forty years and now, of course, his most recent work can be found online. He has recently published a collection of poetry entitled This Is Not About What You Think in addition to two novels. A third, Milligan and Murphy, an expression of his love of the works of Samuel Beckett, has just been published. You can read more about him on his blog and website.


  1. Delighted to see these poems up as a group, Andrew. I wrote the first one in April 1986 and the last in July 1996, so ten years, not twelve as I said on Facebook. The first was one of those poems that I fretted over for months though, adding in the proverbial comma and taking it back out again. It’s still not right—‘the sixth hour’ is a little awkward but siesta doesn’t work either—but there comes a time when you have to let go.

    You wondered why I used ‘understand’ rather than ‘understood’ in the last poem. I don’t know how clear it is but in the Winter poem one of the pair has died and in the Spring poem it’s a new couple who can sense the love that has been there before them and, at that moment, they realise that, in time, their love would return to that place to combine with all the previous loves. It’s a sort of ghost story.

  2. Like the seasonal movement. And the footnote is telling. I've been digging up past poems to blog and usually feel the need to add a footnote. A little context, a little extra, sometimes a poem in itself. A word from our sponsor.

    Oh, and the sixth hour works fine for me. Precise.

  3. @Scumdadio – I’m not usually big on notes for poems. If a poem needs an explanation then it’s missing something important. I don’t usually mind giving a bit of background—like the fact these poems were written over a long period of time—but best to leave interpretations to the readers. It was just that Andrew e-mailed me about the word ‘understand’ which I agree does seem wrong, contextually and sonically, but I’m sure (or at least I hope) if he’d spent longer with the poems it might have dawned on him.

  4. Delighted to host these poems, Jim. Totally agree with your point about providing notes. The thing I like about your work is that, even though the poems get to the core of things, they are immediate. As you say, the reader takes his own message, and that's the way it has to be - the reader also brings something to the work.