by Don Two
While waiting for the bus, a stranger sits next to me.
|While waiting for a bus, a stranger sat beside me;
he wore a winter coat, gloves and a winter hat.
The temperature was ninety--a cauldron of summer heat.
He must have been uncomfortable bundled up like that.
He was tall in need of shave with long black dirty hair;
His black galoshes seemed to be two sizes too big.
The shopping parking lot reeked of gasoline and tar.
I grabbed my Dasani bottle, and I took a swig
then wiping lips and chin of wet I tossed him a glance
tying hard not to show disapproval in my face.
I wanted to know why--but I simply could not ask;
There are many people who make up the human race.
Eyes from passing strangers darted to the man so wrapped;
yet dressing warmly in June is not against the law.
Right of clothing liberty is one thing we must grant,
yet what of saying the wrong thing, what of the faux pas?*
Imagine if I had said to him, “It’s a hot one!”
Would he then think I was poking fun at how he dressed?
Sometimes a slip of tongue is something we all must own;
trying so hard not to say the wrong thing caused me stress.
Say something or not say something? That is the question.
Whether it’s nobler in the mind to utter small talk
without someone thinking you are simply pestering,
or hold one’s tongue and allow silence to stop the clock
can be a dilemma which assigns one to a spot.
Out-worldly this man attired in winter gear;
Anxiety became a foe shattering the calm.
Awkward silence on the hot bench instigated fear.
Tongue felt like an air mattress within a jaw so tight;
had the thought to move away--to inch away, the urge.
It might be perceived as rude--it would be magnified;
had to fight it gum and thumb since I was on the verge!
Stranger had a black garbage bag which was at his feet;
the sun was strong and I began to sweat even more.
I heard the bus turn the corner, heard the diesel hum.
O all the lonely people, where do they all come from?
Bus pulled up, front lowered--hydraulics did its part;
we boarded the bus, abandoning the scene of odd.
I got on first, relieved that there was no foul, no harm.
I turned to the bundled stranger and tossed him a nod.
*faux pasˌ(fō ˈpä/)...an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.