She prefers the psych ward. Her blue
nurse-gloves check restraints, flit like the furtive
wingflaps of a kingfisher, her brown skin hidden
by light-refracting feathers. By their own nature,
fitted sheets remain on the bed, held fast
and taut. The patients make plans,
use illusion as reason. In the poster
on the ward wall, three kingfishers, perched
and expectant, track shadows under the water;
all of the birds are dressed iridescent green
and blue, each one the color of a jazz chord.
I want to weave like Ella, matching blare
and tone, her a-tisket a-tasket, her green and yellow.
In a perfect world, patients sleep soundly
between fitted and flat, utility and truth
pressed somewhere between cases and shams.
When they can accept un-real as true, they move
as fish do under a branch: scratch of sheet,
smell of bleach and fabric softener.
The laundry basket holds every song.

Michele Parker Randall
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