Strangers on the Bus
The bus rumbles on through the blue night,
Full of strangers waiting to be home.
I search their faces with a tender curiosity
Pretending I can read their minds and hearts.
You sir, are too handsome to be trusted
And the laugh wrinkles around your eyes
Are belied by the bitter lines around your mouth.
I bet you lie to the people who love you.
I like better the young man slouching under his hoodie.
His serenity suggests he lives in a world all his own,
Pursuing his quiet dreams with unrelenting passion,
Sorting facts into the cupboards of his mind.
The old man is tired of his dozen plastic grocery bags
Always trying to slip off the handles of his walker.
I wish someone would help him with his shopping.
He is wondering if he forgot to buy tuna fish.
And you, sitting beside me— you lean against the window
And suddenly I feel quite certain you are missing somebody.
If I wasn’t here, would you breathe on the glass
And trace a heart in the mist you made there?
At first I overlook the girl with the sequined coat,
Repelled by her nonchalant sneer, her smacking gum.
But then her lips tighten with pain in an unguarded moment,
And I see even she has things she would rather not remember.
There are more stories here than I could ever read,
Tales of pain and joy hidden under shabby covers,
So why do I ring the bell, and step outside into the snow
Never to know how any of these stories end?