Laura Bandy Charley Horse

While you sleep, decisions are made. Your body,
so long on your side, casually switches allegiances

and seizes territory, like a guest suddenly lunging
across the dinner table at their host. If this were war,

and it is, you just lost. Aerial view, a drone might survey
the damage; rough terrain, expanse of sweaty limbs surprised

into agonized spasm, eyes squeezed shut. You’re dreaming, sure,
but the pain is real, the way they say a patient feels everything

on the operating table, then forgets. This is night. In day, thoughts
and bones remain your own, right? You’re awake, it only feels

like dream, like starring in your own surreal show. Take this scene —
that's you front of class, brain blown at the faces. Keen and raw like baby birds

who wait on your worm words, they yawn covertly under bangs and baseball caps, smile
shyly at their feet. Late teens, all are beautiful; shiny, a little zitty, seemingly unconcerned

with the grammar test that’s next. One student breathes the periodic table
for another class, her mouth forming Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Noble Gas.

Two boys softly toss a hackey sack back and forth between their rows, ignore
minor glowering from those in the seams. Crossfire does not bother most,

head-phoned and Apple-Androided as they are, and then the bell sounds and you
announce the day’s vocabulary word; lade, you say, which makes them laugh even

when you clarify, past form of laden, to put a load or burden on. Something goes wrong then,
they stop paying attention because a bell is ringing again but shriller, more insistent and

from everywhere at once. When you freeze, they are kinder than they need to be.
This must be your first, one says, gets up to close and lock the door

while the others, in pairs and silent, turn heavy tables over.

Back to 53.1