Apr/May 2006 Poetry Special Feature

The Girls on the Bus

by Jennifer Finstrom

The Girls on the Bus

wear mismatched coats, hats, scarves.
Blue buttons the size of giant lollipops
are amulets on the blond one's coat.
She shifts in her seat, crosses her legs,
props her booted foot on the vertical
pole as the bus lurches and bumps
down Broadway. Her hair is covered
with a patchwork scarf. "Part of me
will always love him," she says to her
friend. Haunted eyes, ringed
with make-up, say that she needs
a physician.

The other girl, the dark-haired one,
says nothing. She looks at her friend,
looks out the window at the strip malls
going past, at the fish and chicken shops,
the pizza by the slice, the thrift stores,
the African grocery. Sunglasses perch
on top of her head, her hair
in a disordered knot. She wears
a red coat and gloves without fingers,
a houndstooth scarf. She holds
a piece of paper in her hands
that she looks at over and over.

"He will always have a part,"
the blond girl says. She crosses
her legs on the seat, threads the fringes
of her scarf through her fingers, plucks
at the ruffles of the flounced skirt
she wears over her ragged jeans. The door
opens and shuts, opens and shuts.
When the bus wheels east and the moon's
skull rises from the lake, she lifts
her head to stare at it, dares to
confront the thing that watches her
full in its spying face.


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