And When I Sleep, Luella. [iii]

Engine hum. Shudder. Someone got off, someone on. A starling of a woman, perched further down the bus, leapt from her seat with a gasp, like she’d awoke late in a grave. She gaped and gawped bleak window glass. Took what she could. Letitia counted off the clipped heads as the  woman flapped down the aisle to the front, where she hopped off into the yellow and blue headache of some hell called Darlington.

A magpie man gets on, country styles down the aisle, settles the empty nest. Some seconds later, the starling returns. She holds her hand to her beak. Her throat is blotchy. When she gets back to the seat that she flew she looks the new occupant up and down, but nothing gives. She takes nothing. She nervously seeks a new seat.

Prick-hot sweat and cold head sweat. Sick itches and acid tics. Twitches. Worm-slow sorrow. Cotton damp. Cunt cramp. Head clamp. Mucus stain. Gooseflesh; wet, woollen blanket. A rank, squat mattress. Letitia draws it tight around her, tries and fails to sleep, Luella. Rereads the back of the seat like it’s written in some mystic cipher. The words, the translate, become prison tattoo, death march, cave etch; misspelt hate mail. Mgdyeiwnbw jksiuun vehdiu.

She digs her sharp elbow between the tin boy’s ribs, just for some love and contact with a human. He shoulders sleep.

and when i sleep, luella [iii/xii]©2019


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