Kimberly Cloutier Green

Ninth Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, New Hampshire


 

Bus Stop

 

He’s annoyed behind his paper
by the kid with rosy curls who spins
and spins, her mother unable to still her,
and you’re sure as he checks his watch
he’s thinking it better come soon—

and now she’s singing, God help her,
a tune for the woman in a gold sarong
a song about colors you can’t help humming
until a girl sits next to you who’s scary or sore,
every part of her pierced: her nose, brow and belly,
each stab an adamant wound, gem-red
and strangely Darwinian—

then just as it’s clear you’re headed for extinction
the bus wheezes into its bay like an ark
and you see the driver’s no more than a boy
a happy-faced kid standing too straight
his hand outstretched for your tattered ID

and there’s a moment—only just—
you’re certain you’re going
not south to Boston but west at last
where your long-dead mother waits to greet you
her face still bright, no trouble in her eyes,
your farewell words—I promise, soon—
breaking like a shower of light around her

and as you scan for an empty seat in the back
wondering why it’s distance you keep
when it’s nearness you need, the pierced girl
tucks in beside you offering a stick of gum,
her hurt mouth consoling—Where are you headed, you ask,
a burst of mint on your tongue, and when she says not sure
you know you’ll talk the whole way.

from The Next Hunger: Poems (Bauhan Publishing)