Image by National Museum of Denmark
He used to have his legs on the back of the sofa, his feet halfway up the wall. He used to have the top of his head touching lightly the sitting room carpet, imagining the ceiling was the floor. He used to think of marching about the whiteness, only in his socks because his shoes would leave black marks. He used to think of having to step over the section of wall where the ceiling rose to the top of the door.
His mother used to say, “Sit nicely! You’re putting dirt on the wall!” She used to warn of all the blood rushing to his head and how it was bad for the brain and the sinuses. She used to say, “Sit nicely!” and they’d watch tv together the right way up. The news. Serious people speaking seriously about serious things, trapped in a horizontal rectangle.
She used to go to do all the things nobody else was doing and he’d turn over to a cartoon and put his feet halfway up the wall and watch funny talking animals run about streets that were now in the sky. He wasn’t the wrong way up, they were. He used to think how the flex of the light was standing although he’d discovered when hitting it accidentally with a pillow one day that, despite appearances, there’s no strength in a length of flex. It would have to stand as he marched about the white ceiling because if it relaxed back on what was now the ground so too would drop the newspaper and all of his toys. The flex must stand so the tv didn’t fall. But if he was to defy gravity so too must the world, so he discovered it must be with suction shoes that he’d accomplish these things. Shoes would leave black marks on the ceiling. He’d invent Suction Socks!
His mother used to say, “Sit nicely! Look at Daddy’s wallpaper!” She used to warn of all the bugs on the floor that would crawl into his hair and make a nest on his head and have babies and bite. She used to say, “Sit nicely!” and they’d look at a comic together the right way up. One of her comics. Photographs of grown-ups walking like grown-ups doing grown-up things, trapped in a vertical rectangle.
It used to brew up a storm outside. He used to want to go out but his mother used to say, “Look at that rain!” She used to warn of getting pneumonia and of falling branches. She used to say it would mess his hair. She used to say, “Sit nicely!” and they’d sing songs together.
It’s raining; it’s pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed and bumped his head,
And didn’t wake up the next morning.
He used to think about putting the pillow down where his feet went and having his feet up by the headboard. He used to think about lots of things he’d never do.