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A nightbus pretzel, by Britta Benson

Turns out, you can write more than one poem about travelling on the nightbus. So here’s the poem inspired by my return journey. I came back this morning and I’m still a bit dazed, twisted and contorted. If you’ve ever travelled on a bus for a very long time and you happen to be rather tall, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

The nightbus pretzel

I quietly sit down on the fuzzy felt of ancient upholstery,

filled with the whispered, twisted pain of tortured souls,

the ghost cries of those who went before me, their sighs

preserved in fibres forever more and still I believe I can!

There must be a way – hold on to that thought – it’s a puzzle,

a challenge, the great game of life and public transport.

No manual covers the doomed, primal instincts rule.

How will I fold two arms and two legs, contort my torso

into the complicated origami required to fit this space

and allow at least minimal circulation? Within seconds

my bum cheeks are numb, my legs have gone rogue.

Does my head point in the right direction? Slowly dying

extremities are pushed against their will into awkward

positions for the severely masochistically minded.

Who knew I had such an interesting niche hobby?

This is my eight hour yoga session for the fearless.

Under the blue, unforgiving light inside this coach,

I move in my slowest, most beautiful inelegance

from one warped, uncomfortable shape to the next,

convinced my body spells ‘acceptance’ in Chinese.

I arrive at my destination, a perfect nightbus pretzel,

every limb more dead than alive and in the wrong place.

‘Make sure you take all your personal belongings with you’

the driver shouts and I realize that this is the true challenge.

While I can clearly identify my bag, I’m not so sure where

my body lies, but like everyone around me, I get up,

quickly locate two arms and two legs, stagger, stumble

and simply hope for the best on my onward journey.


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