274. Revived

“I hate to be in
There! Inside my
Head, it’s just 
A jail!” Pushing away
The bird in memory,
She jumped up: Louise
Recalled some cells she’d
Seen in Mississippi–
Mattresses, their insides
Crawling out;
The filthy pot.
“Lord, it’s bad as church,
When he says, Sinners, Sinners,
And drags out your sin, and
Paints your picture
In the very act, each
Scratch or belch, each
Thought, each grubby,
Ugly detail, till
Your collar chokes, you
Sweat….I want
Out of my head!
Riah!
Wake up, Riah!
Damn your eyes!”

She looked down
At her patient.
Riah’s face, gone
Blue. “God–”
Louise grabbed her shoulders,
Shook her, slapped her,
Pressed her mouth against
Her mouth, breathed in,
Drew back then and
Slapped her, grabbed
Her neck–
“Riah! Riah–
Riah–Riah.
Come! Come on–”
The dark lips parted.

Louise exhaled.
She listened at the mouth.
The reed of breathing,
Wavering, returned.
“You! Fixing to
Leave me!” Body
Heaving, Louise
Screamed in Riah’s
Face: “Yes!
You was!”
She slapped her, this time,
Hard.

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