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31 I Come to You, Thirty-Six Hours by Train Sweaty skirt sticking to my leg, aware of my skin’s scent suffusing my coat, and a broken spring wearing its way into my flesh. A Coke bottle rolls unclaimed in the aisle, though I can tell by the plum at its mouth it belongs to the snoring woman behind me. Her lipstick’s worn in a bottle-sized stripe of fleshtone. My foot rattles an empty box of crackers wedged under the seat. A boy-sized man sits beside me, claims his name is Shorty. He’s nervous, pokes my shoulder whenever I close an eye. We roll one mile between each creaking stop in an Amtrak stockyard. When he gets off the train at Olene, near the Oregon border, Shorty won’t look at me, slams his Samsonite against my knee, leaves me with a dark-fisted bruise. I pull a hat over my eyes as I imagine old sailors do, trying to look hard, unmoved. It gets me to morning, the brim of my hat growing stale under breath when a hot dawn slaps my right cheek that’s slumped at the glass. 32 I turn past the man who gained Shorty’s seat in the night, scout my chances for the bathroom. I see the plum-lipped woman throw a leg on her seatmate, her heel knocking my back. She doesn’t speak. the woman’s head nods in false sleep, falls to the man’s button-stretching belly. He pets her hair with a hammy thumb, her curls going flat from the weight. Her lower lip pushes at the cup of his navel as she mutters about meeting her husband at the curbside of this stop. The bellied man helps smooth her hair, but it stays concave on the side that pressed his flesh. I run hands through my own hair, tug at knots. You’re still five hours north. I turn back, careful not to brush knees with the man beside me. ...


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Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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