On the Way from Here to There.

27 October, 2011 § Leave a comment

Old quavery man, you with the limp in your heavy-heeled step
and the wrinkles in your brown polyester pulled over faded cargo pants,
why did you do what you did?

You with the quiet etching of nameless grace.

You shuffled on to the bus at the corner of
Crawford and Hadley where the shadows of the freeway
loom over cigarette butts, topsy-turvy Coke cans and
the evening lines of homeless waiting for hot meal on plastic.

It was after 5 and the bus was already crammed full of
going-home elbows, backpacks and sneezes.

Several stops came and went before
someone else exited and you could release your grip —
yes, sometimes the history map of age spots can tell a better story
of life lived to the full, sometimes
more complete than a picture painted through words themselves.

Letting go of the yellow railing and easing
arthritic knees into the small seat behind and
to the left, you placed your lunch cooler on the ground
next to your dusty steel toes and
a sigh rose up from the vanishing ground underneath.

Then, on the way from here to there,
the humming of the wheels slowed down once more,
the exhaust pipe coughed (one hundred times over)
and we pulled over to the curb
for the boarding of a solitary figure.

Sneakers, jeans and a work day’s worth of exhaustion
draped over the wilting collar she wore around her neck;
no seat for you, ma’am, no room here for you.
All around, safe in our own space,
we had eyes only for the nicotine stains,
the unwashed smell hanging heavy in the air and the extra
flesh around the middle.

No one else moved.
No one else smiled.
No one else saw.

Except for you, old quavery man.

You cleared your throat, chivalry trapped in asthmatic lungs.
You shifted your weight, rattle-boned, and then
you slowly stood to join her,
flat-footed,
in the swaying isolation of the aisle.

“Here, miss,” a gentle tap on slumped shoulder.
“Sit here.” Pointing behind to the fabric-covered resting place
working man had waited for and earned by means of
silent patience only the weary and the aged truly display.
“There’s a seat for you here.”

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