Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

Fugitives in Bed

Written By: Emily Townsend

We are coming back from your cousin’s house in Fauntleroy
and catch the Tillikum ferry on its last shift at 2:10 a.m. We stand
at the edge of the vessel, the sea spraying salt on our skin, and though I cannot
see your face I know you are terrified. I know dark is the worst
                            color and you want to escape and dive

into bed where we are both safe, yet the blackness of night is never
safe for you. Every time you break down, I feel
your cries in the headboard, sweat dripping
behind your back onto my arm and you may think that I’m asleep
but I will plunge into the darkness with you, put myself in your position
                            curled up and trembling and slack

pinned down beneath the comforter your father gave us as a wedding gift,
quilted, from his mother, with goldenrods and                  orange butterflies

in the western Amazon rainforest live off of yellow-spotted river turtles’ tears
because the turtles have a gland that empties in their eyes, ridding them of salt
collected while swimming in saline streams. Their tears carry the sodium
a butterfly needs. Turtles prefer butterflies to bees,
                            gentle flaps instead of buzzing wings—

I could’ve been a bee. I could’ve left the bed and slept on the couch,
blared the television loud enough for the neighbors to hear, set off the dogs’ barking,
let your ghosts attack you. I could’ve crawled inside your eyes and blocked
your tear ducts, hot-wired your scleras, batted my wings to whip up a tsunami—
                            No, you deserve to have the salt removed,

I want you to live so I can live. Please detach your shaking
hands from the rail, away from the black canvas of Vashon. Let’s go inside,
and work through this under fluorescent lights. You are not a fugitive.
I will not leave you in the dark. Come closer. Put my lips on your heart
                            and I will whisper into your ventricles:
                            You are not temporary to me.

About the Author

Emily Townsend / Stonecoast Review / Issue 7 / Summer 2017 / Poetry / Fugitives in Bed

Emily Townsend is a recent graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University. Her nonfiction and fiction has appeared in Superstition Review, Thoughtful Dog, The Bookends Review, Junto Magazine, and Sink Hollow. She is currently working on a collection of essays in Eugene, Oregon. Her advice is to avoid having an existential crisis whenever possible: 0/10 would not recommend.