The August heat percolated in her head - but she
kept the lid on.
The heat bounced off
the cement sidewalk,
- off the tall apartment building and the one
she had just left,
- off the miles of asphalt car park which surrounded
the malls and which ran, one into the other,
- off the boiling traffic in four lanes of
And sitting on the bench
at the bus stop - opposite Harvey’s Hamburger Inn - she
smelled the greasy heat off the building.
And when her man - the
sick one - the one she had nursed and comforted got better and
left her destitute for another - the lid then, had almost come
And middle-aged - living
again with her mother - the one she had run away from - once -
she kept the lid on tight - too tight.
She got on the bus which
was an oven - packed tight with bodies - breathing - and she could
barely - and then it started again.
At first she took no
notice - for the scream of pain that she heard in her head and
which rarely left her - was her own. But … this time it
was different … this time it was different for the others
had heard it too …
At last, the lid had
come off and she was uncovered.
With her mouth open
- but not breathing,
With her heart stopped - but thumping not beating,
With her eyes pleading - for mercy - her ears
heard it again,
And again it was different.
In a flash of triumph
and absolution - she realized the scream came not from her, but
And as she pressed closer
- shifting together - now again, one of the crowd - away from
that other -
She screwed on her lid
Taken from ‘Footprints on the Limestone’
(1993), pages 78-79.