“When They Told Me You Had Died” by Thadra Sheridan

Thadra Sheridan


When they told me you had died,
I figured you hadn’t.
Their call did not wake me.
It was a dream,
or a cruel joke,
an unfortunate confusion of facts,
they’d misspoken,
or I hadn’t heard them right.
Because people don’t just die,
not in their thirties,
not the people I know.
People I know are the first to call on every birthday.
Their houses teem with fish tanks.
They drink too much at the bar
and flick their cigarettes at my chest.
No one sends the police
when they’ve been missing for days.
They’re not found in their beds.
Not people I know.

I was at a hotel in Boston.
With a cold that had
revealed itself slowly on my flight
the night before.
And after my telephone
buzzed me from my slumber,
after I’d hung up,
baffled that someone had
gotten this information so wrong,
I lay under a comforter that
who knows when last they washed it?
They always warn you.
They do the sheets,
but never the blankets.
There are bedbugs, you know.
They always warn you.

I thought about calling
to say I was in Boston,
you should be too,
and someone just told me the
craziest story.
But I knew if I dialed
you wouldn’t answer.
You always answered,
but you wouldn’t this time,
and it would be true.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015


Thadra Sheridan: “I have written poetry since I was eight years old. It rhymed back then. As I moved into adolescence it got really sappy and boy-centric. In college I saw a folk singer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. His lyrics were funny and blunt and so brutally honest, I was amazed that he said such things out loud. The impression he made on me was incredibly strong. I thought, I could be that honest. I want to affect people that deeply. I write because I believe none of us are alone or all that different. And when we see ourselves in the thoughts and experiences of others, we realize that. So I tell my story.” (web)

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