Olivia De Zilva


In transit

at 3am listening to Paul Simon parked at some small town truck stop. where passengers pile off the bus to buy overpriced pies and watery coffee made by a red-eyed attendant drinking a can of redbull. waking up from sleeping pills taken at the Bordertown servo rubbing their eyes in darkness and undoing the seatbelt clasped around unsettled bellies full from potato chips and the swell of midnight. mother takes her child to the toilet so that she won’t wet herself on the way into Melbourne. old couple sleep through the rest-stop not caring if they wet themselves on the way into Melbourne. foreign exchange students excited to see the big city faceyiming relatives back home showing them the truck stop at Ararat. excited faces smile on their screens a clueless auntie says she’s always wanted to go to Ayers Rock. bus driver smoking, I can see him through the windshield as he leans back on his one million-dollar machine charming the old ladies and their perms with his occa accent and Crocodile Dundee sideburns calling them fine young birds as they twitter about the weather. his faded tattoo mapping chest hair and dead skin, illuminated by the blinking fluorescent lamps above Ararat’s best and only petrol station. falling asleep halfway to Graceland. warmth from a stranger, her arm resting against my red jacket like it was meant to be there. soon we’ll awake together in the concrete basement of Southern Cross Station with our bodies still warm from the closeness of our blood and of our dreams. until the bus driver announces ‘welcome to Melbourne where the local time is 6 am’. and she’ll take a left on Little Collins St to the closest youth hostel while I fall asleep at the 24 hour Burger King and forget all about her.


Olivia De Zilva                            

Olivia De Zilva is a writer living in Australia. She was awarded the Deakin University Non-Fiction Prize by Express Media in 2019, shortlisted for the University of Queensland Press Mentorship Award and The Deborah Cass Prize in 2022. In 2023, she was shortlisted for the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers and 20/40 prize by Finlay Lloyd. Her work has been published in The Guardian, Westerly, Liminal, SBS, Cordite Poetry Review and Australian Poetry Journal among many others. She is currently working on a full-length creative non-fiction manuscript. Visit her at www.oliviadezilva.com