PAT Still Life #1 (54C)
Charon, peroxide blonde, implores a coltish teen to clear a bench;
she complies, the diffident surrender of youth's sunset
deferred by freedom pledged but undelivered,
clumsy knocking limbs and tangled clothing knots,
two steps across the aisle to another seat
where pride stiffens her posture.
Sighing, the bus stoops to embark its fare,
a short mustachioed man manacled at the forearms
shambling aboard surrendering coin sheepishly
slumping against the vacant seat
crutches dangling and clatter to an uneasy rest
on the floor slanting askew in our box of light.
Colt's skin too fair for the cold,
eyes too big for their sockets
too pretty for the world
(held in by no more than lumped eyeliner
legs too long to fold,
grudging innocence unbetrayed
by a gleaming septum ring;
she locks eyes with her twin in the opposite window
and feigns blindness, autohypnosis.
Beer Breath cattle grunts and presses his knee to mine;
I shift and watch the night in warped miniature
unfold through the thick of his bifocals and the windshield's thin.
The chime, a shorter girl presses forward
thin lips wildflower pretty,
body awkward in jeans less snug than the mode,
bookbag like a field stone slung low on her back;
leaning forward like a mule to the yoke
she enters the night.
[revised, 1/19/05, 11:59 PM]