The bedroom smells like furniture polish so
I must’ve tossed the rags in with the sheets again. Light
from the bedside table burns my fingertips. Memories bore into the flaws of my mattress.
Ink grieves across cocktail napkins, on a sales’ receipt, in the margin
of a city map. Air between scraps of paper wants to be truth. Words sound themselves
out as if they’re facts. Silly air words on scraps of paper aren’t
permanent. A hologram on my lampshade: a snake’s severed head can still bite/
the daddy longlegs in my shower doesn’t feel its missing leg. I’ll eat the
Thesaurus if it lies to me again. Insomniacs on my street pipe skunk
weed through my open window as if I don’t worry enough about
the kismet of my lungs. Streetlights squeeze out color in a bottomless annum, turning
walls into Pop Tart pastels like my hair, only painted with a toothbrush.
And under it all, daffodil bulbs hibernate in a brown paper bag on the floor
of the closet beneath N95 masks and a canister with my mother’s ashes
no, remains because how do we really know what’s inside? In the broken night my
neighbor shrieks under a honeycomb moon; she’s lost her house keys again.
Dogs barking at 3 a.m. make you feel like you’re going crazy. Cracking pistachios in bed
has permanently split my thumbnail. I so love the blue-striped Hanes left
behind by my last boyfriend how they bloom recklessly large on my hips, chew on
my thighs; still blood warm stretched-out in the crotch. All those empty
bottles of hotel shampoo float in the tub where an invisible crowd bathes to extinguish
germs we can’t see no one comes to apologize who can sleep?
Sherry Shahan lives in a laid-back beach town in California where she grows potatoes in a box that delivered a stereo. Her work has appeared in Oxford University Press, Los Angeles Times, ZYZZYVA, Confrontation, Hippocampus, F(r)iction, Exposition Review and elsewhere. She earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and taught a creative writing course for UCLA Extension for 10 years.