Tag Archives: people

Osama Bin Laden on the Bus

The bus driver smiles hugely as I climb onto the bus.
“How’s your husband?” I ask. “Oh, he’s fine, thank you for asking,”
she replies. “That’s good, we were a bit worried about you.”
I sit near the sweet-voiced woman, but she’s reading again,
another book by McCall Smith. Instead I start chatting
with the retired Navy vet. The bus passes the Temple.
The wall was painted with a quote (“Hate cannot drive out hate:
only love can do that”) but it has been defaced again.
The vet tells me last night she was watching television,
that show with the strange guy, the one about firing people,
who is he? Oh, yes, Trump. She really wanted to see who
got fired, but the show was interrupted by a news cast.
“Did you know Osama bin Laden was killed?” she demands.
My jaw drops. “No! Really?” “Yep,” she says, “Navy Seals got him.”
The mild-voiced man in the next seat over comments, “Ding, dong,
the witch is dead. That’s all I have to say.” The grizzled man
wearing Army Surplus barks, “What took so long?” In the back
of the bus, someone I can’t see cheers. “It’s embarrassing,”
murmurs the small woman beside me. “It makes us all look
like blood-thirsty barbarians.” She shakes her head sadly.
The Navy vet looks wistful, “I really wanted to see
who was fired.” That night, taking the bus home, the Temple wall
has been repaired, again saying, “Hate cannot drive out hate … ”

Erosion of Loneliness

Riding the same bus at the same time, I see the same people,
at least most days. The tiny frail white-haired lady usually
sits facing me, on the other 3-person seat, but today
she smiles brightly and carefully sits across both of the two
remaining seats on my bench. Odd, I think, while reading my book.
A few minutes later, a gentleman slowly climbs on board
with his cane, asking courteously, “May I squeeze in here?”
She scoots a couple inches over, closer to me, leaving
a generous gap between us, then smiles and replies, “Of course!
Squeeze away. After all, none of us get enough of that, eh?”
I can hear the blush in her voice. “No, none of us do, do we?”
he replies, smiling. She smiles back. I can’t see it, but I know
anyway. Their shy conversation floats past, filled with awkward
hopeful gaps. I smile, too, studiously reading my thin book.

The Erosion of Confidence

“Does this bus go to Kroger?” I look up from my book. “No.”
Roughly my age, the slender man has a thick accent,
sturdy clothes the color of mustard, a grey cloche,
and a deeply lined face. He nods, tired, but intent.
“Does this bus go to Kroger?” “No,” I repeat, “it doesn’t.”
“Oh.” He glances down. “Does this bus go to Meijer’s?”
“No.” “Oh.” He cups his hands in his lap, patient.
A block later, he repeats, “Does this bus go to Kroger?”,
pauses, then adds, “You see?” and shows me a paper,
his prescription. He tries to pass it to me, but,
embarrassed, I don’t take it. “If you need a drug store,
there is one on the corner here. See?” I point.
He looks, obedient. “Get off at this next stop,” I add,
as I do so. He nods. The bus drives on. I watch, sad.

end of the day

end of the day,
big-bellied man
waits for the bus,
overbalanced,

shoulders leaning
against the wall,
eyes closed, eyes closed,
lips loose, relaxed.

as I come close
lids crack open,
nothing else moves;
as I walk past

his fatigue sinks
a line in me —
I can feel it
as I slow, drift.