Jennifer Sullivan


-n. A room in which to sleep: As in, I hung the painting you made of your bedroom in my bedroom. I imagine you walking into your bedroom, taking off your straw hat, face lined by sun. You put your pipe down next to the porcelain basin, unbutton that blue smock, remove your underclothes of unbleached linen. There are specks of lemon yellow paint all over your arms. I could scratch them off with my fingernails. -adj. 1. Sexually suggestive: Did you ever have a lover in that wooden bed? I mean bedroom eyes, flesh upon freckled flesh- folded, trembling, full. The swell. The space between morning and midday. The separation. 2. Related to or inhabited by commuters: Our two worlds meet only in these bedroom poems, through your bedroom being in my bedroom. It is the last thing I see before I close my eyes.



She was given a gold ring when she was four. When she opened the box, no bigger than a quarter, she winced at the gift that lay blanketed in blue velvet. She had no words for this. The shape reminded her how lonely the moon looked each night. The sparkle convinced her that she been given a yellow swatch of sun. Slipping the ring on her finger, she threw her insignificant hands to the sky. Smudged in sweat and dirt, her four year old finger became molten with perfection. But it was not enough. She wanted to lick it, to douse the holy ring with her tongue. Sliding the ring off her finger, she opened her mouth in peerless preparation. Ring perched on her tongue with all the infinite possibilities of childhood, she clamped her jaw, snagging the ring, accidentally on purpose between her villainous teeth. She ground and gnawed, her cheeks swelling with enameled desecration, drowning the gasps of grown ups. There exists no memory of the scolding, of the avalanche of tears. She remembers only the ruin of the ring, how the rubble of puckered gold sat spoiled with spit in her hand, how she broke her own heart. To go back into time. To sweep that little girl up in my arms. To take the ring from her hands just before she places it into her smoldering mouth. To hold onto it for her, for safekeeping. To show her how to taste beauty without destroying it.



BEDROOM: I am working on a sequence of poetry about the letters, paintings, and life of Vincent van Gogh. Occasionally, as in "Bedroom," the persona fades and the poet mingles with the painter. Though the content of the poem is inspired by van Gogh's Bedroom paintings, the form is after A. Van Jordan.

SAFEKEEPING: I am told that when I was a child I broke things on purpose. Sometimes things are so exquisite, what choice do we have?