Moving Days

for Layla, with apologies

In the new place she is confused, she is disoriented. They took her from the lonely home, the tall ones, the weighty ones, and through the windows for days she could see but vaguely a thousand worlds spinning past. Glimpse of trees, burst of water-smell: she senses rubber, exhaust, strange life.

The new place is like the old new place but different. The floor grabs her feet in unpleasant ways, tugs at her nails. The new place smells new and unused. Sterile. There are older stains beneath the new paint, older smells written under the thick erasure of bleach, soap, shampoo.

She is distressed. There is hardly room to turn around. They keep changing things. Doors become walls, walls become hallways, her bed is a different place every night. They take her to bed with them, run soothing hands over her shaking body. She resents the intrusion but appreciates the concern, in spite of herself.

They begin teaching her their obscure language. In the wilds outside she is buildings, she is pavement, she is lakewater. She is a thousand strangers tracked upon her.