On the top of the 24 bus, a hatching,
a discreet struggle inside a dark cocoon –

a bare elbow wriggling to break
free of its confines: then suddenly

young skin, satiny, ochre, muscular.
She dropped the black cloth from her head,

her shoulders, looked round once –
saw only a woman with a book –

and pulled a tight white teeshirt
down over her head, over her body, over

slim jeans suddenly visible, and fished
an iPhone out of her back pocket.

It showed a different self: she licked
a finger to smooth her perfect eyebrows,

then clattered loud down the back stairs
of the bus, the black chador stuffed into her bag.

I watched her long hair stream out loose
on each side as she ran off down the road.

Into the rest of the world.

Beatrice Garland

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