When she was fourteen, she says,
she ran away from home, at sixteen
she bought a big bike and hit the road,
moving from town to town, looking for
something she can’t explain.
Later, with her fluffy blonde hair
tucked under a cap, she worked at
fixing computers for a living.
Now, briefly, she’s alighted
behind the counter of the aquarium shop
to wait out the winter. We sit and talk
while the fish gape and kiss the glass
in a bother of colourless bubbles.
Her blue eyes are wide awake and dreaming:
she’s inside a huge television set
under the sea, surrounded by a movie
of a coral reef where a million
coloured fish flicker like confetti.
She shows me the book she’s reading:
see, she says, when a butterfly
breaks out of the cocoon, it is already
delicate and pretty.
She lights another cigarette, stares out
through the rainy window at the street
full of showers and the heavy traffic
stalled on the hill,
thinking of the open road,
sunshine, and the next flower.