Missing Buses

A meditation on retirement

Sloppings of slush, sardine-tin overcrowding,
sweat-sticky seats, asphyxias of exhaust—
yes, I’m on record as having loathed it all,

but it comes at a cost, this slug-a-bed new freedom.

I miss things: swooping, diving, passionate voices
in several African tongues, so far beyond me
they might as well have beamed from the constellations.

My high-school Spanish as panting, short-legged spaniel
chasing the real deal, el mero mero,
across and back, words whacked like soccer balls.

A dozen hijabs in bridal-party brocades.
Church ladies, glorious in their faith, their hats.

Where but at city bus stops would I learn
the whole well-structured, thespian script of the panhandler,
the straight spine of the man led off in handcuffs?

Where but far in the back would I overhear
first-person testaments on criminal justice?

In clouds of diesel fumes and of unknowing
I was kept humble, like those pavement pigeons
at transfer points, annoying, breasted with rainbows.

About the author

Maryann Corbett’s poems, essays, and translations can be found in journals on both sides of the Atlantic, on the websites of the Poetry Foundation…

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Issue 24 · September 2021

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