national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2011

Nighttime

Kendall Nelson  • 
Emerson College

I try my best to ignore the man under my mattress

 

He talks about the little kids

that he put in his backpack

and how I will be just the right size

 

I’ve seen his backpack before—

green and canvas and small

He will have to bend my limbs and snap my fingers and turn my neck

in order to fit me inside

 

I don’t want to go where I know he will take me

to the woods beside the railroad tracks

rusty and dead and cold

 

I hate the thought of lying on the leaf remains—

listening to the trains charge by

cutting through the hopeless air

 

I feel his fingertips through the mattress

measuring the outline of my body