Critical Thought: Bed

In “Objects,” I try to create fictions out of two impulses. The first derives from the associations that the mother object generates. Second is a progression whereby each association bares a relation to the object before it. John Hawkes’s famous if youthful dictum was that plot, character, setting, and theme are the “true enemies of the novel.” My goal is to traffic in them faithfully. In “Objects: Bed” there is, or there is meant to be, a distinct and discoverable character, a woman. She has a specific past and finds herself at a critical juncture in her life. The setting, of course, is a bed. She finds herself on it in the early dawn of a present-time Tuesday morning in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.

Tristan Davies teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where he is director of undergraduate studies.

Objects: Bed

No feet on the bed, no damp towels on the bed, no hats on the bed. No crumbs on the bed. No newspapers on the bed. No magazines on the bed. No books on the bed. No Kindles or Nooks or tablets or iPads or iPods on the bed. They will be confiscated. No cellular telephones on the bed. No cellular reception on the bed. No satellite on the bed. No satellites on the bed. No solid rocket boosters on the bed. No rocket fuel, LH2 (liquid hydrogen) or LOX (liquid oxygen), on the bed. No lox or nova or whitefish, smoked or salad, on the bed. No latkes, plackis, blinis, or blintzes on the bed. No blitzes, media, Red Dog, or krieg, on the bed. No flashes on the bed. No flash points on the bed. No projectile points in the bed, particularly Basket Maker, Bat Cave, or Clovis. No point-of-no-return on the bed. No point-of-sale on the bed. No counterpoint or counterpanes on the bed. No pain of death on the bed. No habeas corpus on the bed. No right of return on the bed. No invasive species on the bed. No bugs on the bed. No scabies on the bed. No crabs on the bed. No lobsters on the bed. No shrimps on the bed. No oysters on the bed. No toys on the bed. No toy soldiers on the bed. No dead soldiers on the bed. No glass on the bed. No silicon on the bed. No plugs or pearls or pushmi-pullyus on the bed. No saliva-slick fingers on the bed. No cold feet on the bed. No rubbers on the bed. No rain on the bed. No graupel on the bed. No glissading on the bed. No bolting or jug-holds on the bed. No Whittaker Wheezing on the bed. No deep sighs or street signs on the bed. No signs of joy on the bed. No jumping on the bed. No monkeys on the bed. No lions, zebras, tigers on the bed. No Africa on the bed. No Transjordan, no Narbonese Gaul, no Nancy on the bed. No Ostrogoths on the bed. No shifting fortunes on the bed. No Chinese fortunes on the bed. No incense on the bed. No fog on the bed. No low visibility on the bed. No no-fly zones on the bed. No farewells on the bed. No tears on the bed. No emissions on the bed. No piss, shit, blood, or vomit on the bed. No nose on the bed. Know nothing on the bed. For it is written: Love not sleep. And again, Walk in love as Christ hath loved us.

by Tristan Davies