Nights Spent Flying

Poem by DeMisty D. Bellinger

I’ve lost count of the days that I close my eyes against,
try to sleep in spite of the sunlight seeping through,
red globules dance across my sight

and this day is cooler than any days I’ve known.

I lay on a quilt I made with a woman called Rebecca, a woman called Ruth,
and a woman we called ma’am because even though she was just like us, she stood tall — 
like us, she sewed for relaxation and knew enough to laugh at doing work for pleasure.

I close my eyes tighter and I can see their smiles, their high cheekbones.

The fat quarters were already worn bare and soft as brushed fresh cotton
when we got them, and the stuffing was only more scraps,
so the quilt was thin and beneath it, I felt the prick of the grass tips, the digs of the gravel

the grass and mud, cooling toward autumn.

Still, I was heading away and even in the light of day,
where I tried to sleep hiding beneath the trees of a hidden stand
I slept. I was learning to feel good. Heading away to a life of dreams

following a star like mythical wise men.

DeMISTY D. BELLINGER teaches creative writing at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in many places, including WhiskeyPaper, Forklift, Necessary Fiction, and The Rumpus. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and twin daughters. This piece was a finalist in the 2018 Charter Oak Award for Best Historical.