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(In) Hiding: A Poem

The windows were open but the curtains were closed.

The sunlight poured through the thin lime fabric; diffusing dusty

liquid sunshine into this dark room, where I watched in silence from the floor.

Silhouettes of bobbing heads slid along the curtains like

a war time film projected on a sheet screen. I can see them

but they can’t see me.

The wind slides in through the window vents; breathing in

the scents of the market, someone’s cooking, someone else’s

chimney smoke. – But I can still smell the air.

I fill my lungs and they feast on the kind of

fresh, crispy oxygen that only comes here after the rain. Moist but

not humid; it’s still gauzed with beads of water. I always

imagine what they’d look like if I was small enough to see them;

like the sun passing through the prism of microscopic kaleidoscopes,

trapped forever inside raindrops. – The curtains inflate up and down,

in and out, with the wind: like the balloon chest of a frog;

like my own quick lungs. I can see them

but they can’t see me.

The noise sounds and the bobbing heads flash along the curtains.

Rushing past, their shadows are crushed and warped as the curtains

flail in the gust; thrashing with panic as if they were drowning.

Eventually, the gale eases and floats away; the street is calm,

quiet again. I thought I was safe when the shadows disappeared

but a only moment later, a new bobbing head comes.

Wearing a large top hat, the silhouette gets bigger and bigger

as it hovers closer on the curtain screen.

It taps on the window as I hold my breath under my blanket,

I know it can see me.


– Words and pictures are property of Sophie McNaughton.

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