Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tri-Met Bus Line #72

I get on at 18th and Alberta. Ride east, surrounded by cheerfully quarrelling Black ladies and boys who bump raucous fists.

Cully fills the bus with silent Latino men. I drowse, eyes open, as we make the turn onto 82nd. Toward Madison High School, where softly chattering Vietnamese teens file aboard. Some hold soccer balls.

I wonder why some people talk on the bus and some don’t. In my mind, the bus is a shuttle, working back and forth across a loom. Mechanized looms were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution that built the cities we know, the city where I live. Where Slavic and Somali families bump elbows on the bus.

In my mind’s eye the shuttle plays, drawing multi-colored threads into solid cloth. In my mind’s eye I follow it the other way, west toward PCC. Where, I swear this is true. One day three boys got on: one black, one brown, one white. They gossiped about their friend Bobby, you know Bobby? Bobby Nguyen, that Bobby.

In my mind’s eye, my parents walk down the street together. But it’s New York in the 1950s and it’s not normal, then and there, for teens to date across racial lines. It’s not Portland in the 20-teens, where any Saturday you can find a Black and Chinese couple at the mall or in a coffee shop or on the bus.

In my mind’s eye the threads tie off into a glorious bow. I wake up thinking: Why, this bus is beautiful. This is the most beautiful bus

in the world.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

1 comment:

Namzola said...

Liked this poem immensely! So much said with not a word wasted.