This Way by Sherry Landow

This is a short list submission for the YOUTH Award


This Way


Sherry Landow

We skin the bed, my mother and I, stripping away the stains of the week which I pretend not to notice. This has become our Sunday ritual, our absolution process. I take the pillowcases off and throw them in the corner of the room while she pulls apart the sheets. No good no more, she lays them aside. Sitting on the floor at the end of the bed is a fresh pile of linen, ready to cover the mattress.

Naked, the bed looks jaundiced and stale against the wall of their large room; like the once-white ageing sheets kept at the back of the cupboard. She hands me the top corner as I wedge myself between the wall and her side; the wooden base digging into my thighs. The bed’s been pushed this way since the first time he found her waking in cold sweats on the floor.

She turns to face me as I move my eyes away from the blood stained tissues shoved between the mattress and the bed’s wooden base. He probably doesn’t even know that it’s gotten worse again. I brush them onto the floor like the rest of the dirty laundry, remembering to throw them out later.

“No, don’t do it like that, do it this way,” she corrects, tugging at what I’d started. I never pull corners tight enough, I’m told. She doesn’t like creases. She likes to be tucked.

She teaches from the other side, showing me how to best lift the mattress while pulling the fitted sheets underneath. I watch as she moves this way, holding up the weight with her sun-stained hand.


Referenced Lyrics

The Middle East, “Blood”


Sherry is the co-founder and current host of the Poetry Slam at Yours & Owls in Wollongong. You can find them  at