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Blog - Richard Downes

Words From A Photo


I Make My Bed

Words from a photo were inspired by the responses of Deborah Caulfield, Miriam Binder, Rohhss Chapman and Tony Connell who all responded to my facebook request to look at a photo I’d taken of a touchstone entry at the Photographers Gallery. This project hosts one regularly changing photo in a small room. There is a bench. You sit and look at the picture and let it guide your thoughts and feelings. The picture on the wall I photographed was from a book called Haven which documents a woman’s refuge in Wolverhampton. The responses I got from the 3 women and one man above were as follows:

From Deborah, a first impression; “For me, now: 1) Too tired to make the bed. 2) Every life leaves a trace. 3) Space/no space….”
From Miriam; Peace, comfort, replenishment …
From Deborah, a second thought; Brief stay /sudden departure.
From Rohhss; Desolation
From a Man named Tony; No comment

Its not too late to leave your own words below

Their words helped me to develop a memory from special school and a review of how it still impacts on my life:

The bed was made
Then unmade
Before it was made again

The young boy stands at the iron railing

You will make the bed
You will make the bed like this
Bottom of the sheet tucked in
The side lifted up
An envelop
A turn over.

The boy does not want to make the bed

You must learn
Your rooms are inspected
You must do this properly
Your room is marked down if you dont
Your room mates get no sweets

The boy bends to regulation style

50 years on he still calls his bedside cabinet a locker
50 years on he still turns his sheets
50 years, of ingrained learning show just how
His knife, his fork, show he has finished eating
50 years of stacking his plates this same way

Today the boy is tired of how he makes his bed

Tired of how he does things
Tired of rules, rotation, regulation
Tired, run down, defeated, by the way
of having to do the same old thing
day in day out

Today the boy breaks out
Breaks out his purse
And buys his sweets
He has no need to make his bed

His bed. The boys bed
This bed is his and he sees
there is no need to make it
No need to make it
At the right time
He is free at last to have a wrong time

The boy thinks back to his room
His own room
Imagine this is my room
I do not share this space
My bedside cabinet is not a locker
It does not hold my few belongings
It needs not be protected

I have changed the colours.
I won’t wear stripes
I use fewer pillows
Sheets and blankets
Gave way to duvets years ago
I feel the comfort
I feel the peace
I eat the sweets

Those few years
Of uniform
Have gone
Though I was removed
Without permission
I was glad to be departing
Torn away
But I know what stayed inside
I know the burden that I carried
I know where I had to be unbending
I know the tears of separation
The anxious moment from the leaving
The change of situation
The learning of the new tuck of linen
I carry the creases I left in cotton
The marks I left on nylon

I know more the lonely hours
Of night time spent in darkness
Counting breaths I make or hear
I know the tear dropping to my pillow
As I think through days spent in lines
spent queueing
Regulation times
Six names labelled into familiar pyjamas
Red, white stripes
Red whelps on white skin
Given for the falling out of line
Or not making up in time
For taking too long over bending to the bed

And I know too of those who have never spoken

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