The second-class bus speeds south.
The first-class bus, even faster,
Has been well ahead, but look!
It is on a grassy bank, broken down.
Its twenty or so passengers will momentarily
Walk onto the second-class bus and stand along the aisle,
Driver back to the rear seats.
Among the twenty or more, old women – mothers –
Guided by daughters whose fingers nudge their bony elbows.
No second-class passengers stand
Laughing to themselves:
The first-class passengers paid for speed, comfort,
And now must mingle with a less prosperous crowd.
Let them get a sense of ordinary people’s travel ….
I tell the junior high science teacher next to me
That we should stand, give up our seats to two old ladies.
Two daughters nudge their mothers’ bony elbows,
And in seconds they are in our seats.
The science teacher and I stand.
A conversation begins, Mexican life, US life ….
I tell one of the daughters,
“Let’s face it. Who knows what you can be, or are.
Only my US birth, luck of birth, has let me get some
Schooling, money, and I’ll never know what I would be
Minus that luck.”
I felt better telling her just that,
A drop of guilt assuaged ….
An hour later, we’re in the capital.
The daughters thank the teacher and me.
The mothers thank us.
The daughters have their fingers on those bony elbows,
Up the aisle ….
Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, late July 2012