Jennifer Sheridan

58.Different


What if you had been someone else?

What if I had never met you

Because you were someone else

And I walked right by you

My eyes lighting

On your eyes

Or whoever’s eyes

For only a beat for only

Say five rapid fire

Bullets

Heartbeats

Or ten movie frames?


Or we met at a party

Then went home with other people

Which was vaguely dissatisfying though

We didn’t realize it at the time?

What if we met every day

But we just didn’t see it?

What if I look in the toothpaste-speckled

Mirror and you are standing right behind me

Only different?

 

6.My Daughter Tells Me of Two Girls Busted Sneaking into Each Other’s Beds in the Early Mornings Before School



First

I imagine them nude, but for pearls.

Languid and long-legged,

Pretending to smoke unlit cigarettes in sweeping, ivory-inlayed

Holders, whispering and laughing low,

Tinny jazz over cell phone speakers.


Second

They are merely huddled together

On a bare single mattress

Eyes shut tight against the pearly

Widening morning

Cowering clinging

Terrified together in this terrible world

We have made for them.

 

80.Paperwork


Here is a list of everything

Every day and how you spent it

Here is every instance we could find of memory

Drenched in shame, also

Every wasted moment.

Here is all your envy.

This is a title list of books you never got to.

Here is how you saw yourself

The things people actually said.

Here is everyone who ever loved you

And every single button lost

From each and every coat you wore.

All the things that could have been are

Right behind those double doors.

 

102.How Bad it’s Gotten


I want to feel I am doing right

Believe

Not have answers

But know someone who does

And know they know

They know I know


I love the color saffron

I love the sound of bells

I could walk down the street alone

Knowing something better is coming


And not be sad

Not be scared

Even if I know, somewhere,

Otherwise


 

Jennifer Sheridan holding these truths to be somewhat self evident, also holds an MFA from Columbia College in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Rattle and Spectrum magazines.