The train’s leather seats are shot,
Mustard-yellow stuffing bulging out like
Fat, jaundiced tongues. I pick
At them incessantly while I wait.
The edge of my sleeve is still a little stained
And I have the stench of arsenic
Stuck in my nose.
The other passengers are so loud.
Like a hive of wasps
Or a revving buzz-saw in my skull.
The urge to scream at them to shut up
Is so strong it hurts my throat.
I swallow it over and over until
My stomach turns sour.
Tillie always said, “It’s rude to yell.”
The train attendant is a pair of blue high-heels
Because I won’t look at her face.
“Can I get you anything, Miss?” she asks.
I coldly stare ahead until she clicks away.
Finally, finally, the train lurches
And rolls forward, wheels picking
Like beating drums on the railway.
I breathe out and sag my weight
Into the ripped seat like a shot
And bleeding doe.
I count my pulse as the train picks up speed.
I had almost forgotten what this feel like.
But this kind of fear is preferable by a long shot.
I prefer the open rail to a closed cell, waiting
To see my gaunt reflection in a steel meal tray.
They deserved it, by the way –
The guards I killed to escape.
They deserved it so much, I promise.
Tillie saw it in her dreams.
Leisa Kilby was a finalist in the Academy of American Poets contest who has also been published in TheBurg, Inked, and Fission.