Hours I’ve spent in river-smelling bathrooms,
panning the glass for a hint of gold. Hating
what was only light. Even my cat, when held
to a mirror, knows that he isn’t in it, will pour
nonplussed from my arms. It was harder for me
to understand: the woman was representative.
Not the sister, the poet. Not the lover of board-
games. Hikes in the Peaks. Just the shadow.
Those hours were a kind of torture. Like salting a cut,
or touching the crater left by a tooth, over and over.
I developed a taste for blood. Then I got tired. Look,
it’s like this: I could see the old mattress, the frizz
of stuffing. Or I could see the bed. My dreams live
there, my lover would if he could. It takes practice.
There are days I remember: the currency of traitors
is silver as a mirrorback. Other days, I’d give all I love
for the shock of finding beauty at last. The librarian
in the movie who takes down her hair, wears a new
dress, and contact lenses: There you were, hiding all
along! You dumb bunny; you sleeved and lovely dove.
Cheryl Pearson is the author of Oysterlight (Pindrop Press). Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Mslexia, The Moth Magazine, and Poetry NorthWest, and she has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has won or placed in competitions including the Cheshire Prize, the Hippocrates Prize, the Gregory O’Donoghue Prize, the Keats Shelley Prize, and the Costa Short Story Award. Her second collection, Menagerie, is forthcoming from The Emma Press in June 2020.