The Poetry of Mary K. O'Melveny

BUS RIDE




It is early in a drizzling day.

We are closely packed inside.

A vague scent of musk, moss,

damp laundry hovers

with us as we lumber along

past offices and coffee spots,

retail gates lifting, optimistic street vendors

ready for sidewalk commerce.

 

Only a few stare outward.

The rest are basked in the bright

glow of kindles, iPhones

blackberries and “apps.”

Our crowded coach is luminous.

Yet all this tumultuous, electronic clamor

feels strangely silent -- an eerie disconnection

among the “connected.”

 

Our crammed interior is decorated

with public service announcements,

“opportunity” phone numbers that no one reads.

Umbrellas of every hue lie crumpled on seats

or hooked over railings where they drip lightly

onto rubber flooring.  They moisten briefcases,

oversized purses and plastic drugstore bags

(the official carry-on of domestic workers).

 

Passengers alight and depart. 

Some sway delicately.

Others shift abruptly,

startled from electronic reveries.

They pull the cord just in time.

Some thank the driver. 

More just push

out into soft rain.

 

Amidst it all – a young woman sits.

Quiet and calm surround her like a Madonna halo.

She cradles two small bags on her lap.

As she reaches in and out, her hands flutter

back and forth.  She folds rainbow paper squares

into origami Birds of Paradise.

Her fellow travelers are quite unaware

that sanctuary has come to roost in their midst.   

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