FROM THE BUS

I see HOPE standing at the bus stop
near 16th and Columbia Road this morning.
Thick bright light purple pile hat and matching jacket,
Cozy and safe from biting wind.

Hat swallows sweet round brown serious face,
pair of skinny pigtails curls round chin.
Dark blue knitted gloves peek out
from sleeves of too-big jacket.
Rabbit ear fingers keep small hands warm.

Baggy pants sling round skinny 8-year legs.
Brown sturdy lace-up shoes stand against iron fence
sprouting wide-eyed wonder up above.
Away from horde inside plastic bus shelter,
Looks down street for school bus.
Fledging human at nest edge, learning to fly.

- - - - - -

Behind lined brown face and tremulous lip
DESPAIR wobbles aboard and swings down aisle.
Lurching rummy breath from under black leather cap
“The docker jesh tole me I gonna die.”

Sits down, thump, beside two talking ladies,
Strikes up conversation “Can’t you see we’re talking!”
Opens torn black leather jacket
(don’t go with baggy blue sweatpants)
Reaches in and pulls bottle from brown bag sheath.

“Now I gotta go home an’ tell ma wife.”
Stands up and staggers to give seat to old lady
(chilvalry don’t die inside boozy haze)
Sits down across the aisle, “You real nice lady.”
Crosses chest and stares despondent at the floor.
Old human at the gate, living in a ditch.

 

Pat Watt, 2000

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