i pass the Nearly on my way to school

by Felix Stokes

i pass the Nearly on my way to school,
back pressed against the smooth
of a huffing train carriage, slick.

it looks at me from the tops of buildings,
and snakes words on pages until
my fingers suffocate and bleed.

like a row of citrus-thorns, vinegar in sludge,
it traces the waves of voice in air
and runs rat-tat-tat-tat-tat across lungs

imitating the death hum of a sewing machine and forcing me
to leave, or risk choking. darts fast
out of pill-packets and knocks the backs of my eyes,

always the backs of the eyes. i see
the Nearly in books, soft looks, a hand
in my hand (we almost fuse, and I almost

wish that we do, so I can hold them for longer).
it’s hunched on my back and just tucked above
my heart so it can leap when it needs to,

and when it does, i fall into Nearly’s arms,
and he tells me that we’ll be okay.