Poem: Transit


I walk the six blocks
to the stop
to take the bus
to pick up the car
from the shop by six.

Eight or ten people
looking like they’re trying
to get home from work
from jobs that don’t pay well
dark faces
dressed in dark coats
a Filipino woman and her young son
while more gather.

I’m a white face
in a white jacket
with little white headphones
racial interloper
transit dilettante
amid a noble proletariat.

A man steps up to me
“Fifteen past?”
I nod, and he looks
bummed and confused,
and starts to speak.

I realize I must not have understood.
I turn off my music.
“Excuse me, what?”
“Did the 15 pass?”
“No, no, that’s the one I’m waiting for.
I thought you were
asking me for the time.”

I check the time—it’s 4:16.
The man’s a regular, says
this bus is always late, always crowded.
He hopes all these people
aren’t taking it.

Suddenly, from over to the right
under the shelter that accommodates
three or four people,
a woman’s shrill voice:
“Shut up! Shut the fuck up!”

A slim black man
in a track suit
steps off quietly, moving slowly
away from her
smoking a cigarette
nonchalance embodied.

shuts up
except for the little boy
peppering his mother with questions.

© 2011 by Eileen Ridge