Bus Journey - Poem by Sheena Blackhall
It’s pencil-scrawled, the bus’s destination
As if the actual journey might be arbitrary,
Uncertain, an Odyssean travail.
The driver is both Chaplinesque and sinister.
Above his square moustache, the eyes behind the glasses
Are grim as the F.B.I.
He grips the steering wheel with whitening knuckles.
He is festooned in bling, a Stirling Xmas tree
In flaming June.
A woman with silver toenails, flowing silver hair
Entwined with pink like Barbie seaweed,
Rests her feet on a chair, a drying mermaid.
I pay and sit. Stare at an empty ashtray
The trip begins. My old bones judder
In their skin bag. The aisle-smells, pee and petrol.
A school decants itself.
The bus floods with a many-headed hydra.
Beano Bedlamites…Luddites of law and order
Hotspur hooligans. I am breathing icebergs
A cloud thunderous with perturbation
Hangs over us. Puberty hands me a shocked wreath.
Straps hang from the roof, two rows of idling nooses
I can imagine heads there, swaying like coconuts at a country fair.
Three seats are wearing jagged gangland scars
Across their faces. Veterans of vandal wars.
The bus stops and the wincing door’s kicked open
The pupils whooping pour outside
Like a bucket of oil on daisies
Somebody opens a window in the roof
Air, straight from the mountain rushes in, a calm orison
A feast of balm. A brightening on the horizon
The trip resumes, past sheep, domestic thistle.
The bus reclaims it silence, clean as a whistle.
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