Jennifer Sutherland

You Lose Something When You Cool It

At -69° chlorodifluoromethane is liquid my son says from behind a screen

I scored some from a guy I haven’t spoken to in almost
………………………………………………………………………………………………………twenty

………………Will I need tools, he wanted to know and I didn’t
know

yesterday the fridge died     my neighbor
kindly offered us a shelf so our milk
eggs cheese are waiting in her shiny Samsung while

I figure     this     out

I wrapped my arms around it, tangoed to the center of the
…………………………………………………………………floor, tore a sleeve

………………left a long wincing scratch behind us

……………………………..now sit here thinking about liquid in coils

door protruding like a tongue

……………………inspect the thin strip of glue where the counter meets
……………………………………………………………………….the cabinets

……………………it holds the impression of my finger before it
slouches back

……………………computer keys tap    cereal crunches

……………………rest chin on knees, rest knees on bruise, rest bruise on plan

Water pulses in the upstairs bath, cuts off

………………………………………………..it is a liquid at this temperature

You’re going to need different tools, the floor tells me

 

The Actor Must Be Sure To Hit Her Mark

Sometimes it’s part of the get ceremony,
………………my friend tells me, over coffee.
We’re just a couple of girlfriends brunching,
………………except my eyes are puffy, and
figs bloom beneath my sleeves, red and violet
………………fading to yellow at the edges.
The couple isn’t parted until they circle each other,
………………say certain words. I suppose it’s a prayer
to be recited, thoughtfully, the point being
………………to make sure. You have to look him in the eye,
the world says. You have to put the face he has now
………………against the one you hold in memory,
decide whether you might love him again.
………………These rituals assume a kindness in the leaving.
An election. After she has been defiled. Step, step.
………………It is a mercy to provide a script,
give them each a role to play. Then, curtain. Applause.
………………Everyone goes out for drinks, gets on
with things. Not the sort of ending I can hope for,
………………though. He’ll go on circling and watching.
When I run he’ll either stop me or he won’t.

© Jennifer Sutherland

Jennifer Sutherland is a mostly former attorney and current teaching fellow with Hollins University’s Jackson Center for Creative Writing. She is also an assistant poetry editor for the Hollins Critic. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Hollins Critic, the Northern Virginia Review, SWWIM Every Day, Streetlight, the I-70 Review, and elsewhere. 

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