Tuesday Poem: On the Bus by Ingrid Horrocks

Newtown, March

The man with his supermarket
bags, rhubarb stalks pink enough
to tempt the pregnant woman beside him,
turns. Her long-stemmed head lifts

and looks around. The girl who’s
all thumbs, playing for cellphone for all
the friends it’s worth, pauses too,
poised, momentarily here.

It begins as a Gregorian chant, sung
from the deep heart of one man’s throat.
Coming from nowhere, no one,
song fills the bus.

Then, doors puncture onto the autumn night.
Silence. The tall man from the Film Society steps out
as he does every Monday.  — Good bye, I want to say,
— Good night. Wasn’t the film good?

The door sucks shut and we are together again,
listening. The time it’s a low whistle.
I watch our driver’s lips in his mirror,
see them round in a blown kiss of sound.

Song hums through the bus: the man across
the aisle smiles a pink smile: the woman
palms her swelling belly; the texting girl
taps in time; and I smooth the wings of my book.

When I ring the bell, step down at the diary
to buy morning milk, and let the bus go,
I walk home trailing just a little
of its casual glory.

By Ingrid Horrocks from Mapping the Distance (pages 55-56)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

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