Portrait of a Woman in Bed
- Terry, James
- Date of entry: Jan-16-1998
It is the voice of the woman in bed that makes this poem, and she is a tough character as she reveals herself, physically and otherwise. "I won’t work / and I’ve got no cash. / What are you going to do/about it?" she demands in the first few lines. She implies that she is a loose woman and perhaps even comes on to the physician: "Lift the covers / if you want me . . . ." and later, "Corsets / can go to the devil-- / and drawers along with them-- / What do I care!"
The woman shifts subjects rapidly, between poverty and sexuality, hinting that she might be pregnant again, writing off her two sons. At the end, she delivers a proud challenge to the physician who has come to see her in the abandoned house: "Try to help me / if you want trouble / or leave me alone-- / that ends trouble. // The county physician / is a damned fool / and you / can go to hell! // You could have closed the door / when you came in; / do it when you go out. / I’m tired."
The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams: Volume 1, 1909-1939
A. Walton & Christopher MacGowan