Monday, June 18, 2018

Quarter Life Poem: Someone Else

Someone Else

In front of me
on the bus
sits a woman.

She has yellowing hair-
like aged lace.
like forgotten chicken bones.

In my lap
I hold an open book
The pages smell like basements
(a handful of moss.
Cloth soaked in sour milk.)
It is a dreary book
full of lonesome characters
in cloaks of charcoal gray.
Of musty cities
always faintly shimmering
under the constant drench of rain and
dim streetlamps.
It is the type of story that reminds me
that everything ends someday
and everyone I pass
is made of blood and bones.

The woman on the bus
turns around and looks at me
with wild raven eyes
they're round and blue
but still reminded me of
the little coal eyes
of a misanthropic bird

She says to me,
"You sound like someone else,
and you remind someone of someone else."

When she says 'someone'
she says it like a beat of a drum-
the rat-a-tat-tat of existence,
of being yet another someone
in a world full of someones.

I know she is right
with billions of voices around the world
everyone must sound like someone else.

She says it again,
"You sound like someone else and
you remind someone of someone else."

I remember strangers on the street
and how their gait or a simple gesture
summons forth the memory of people
I thought I forgot years ago
not realizing their ghosts linger
in the limbs of strangers.

Maybe I would have seen her
as an oracle of simple truths
if moments earlier
I had not seen her hollering
at the teenagers slumped carelessly
in the back of the bus.

She yelled rolling elegies about
infants on beds of ice
and humans in the shape of animals
whose eyes are so black
they swallow in the night.

While the bus pauses at the stop light
the woman points with one thin finger
at a man on the street corner
waiting to cross the street.

The woman declares
(with a knot in her voice)
"that man has satanic finger tips."

The man has a round belly
and a gentle slouch to his shoulders
his fingers look stubby and rough
like they are used for nothing more
than to help him navigate
through a chaotic world.

When I get off the bus
she stares at me through the window
she looks like she is made of ice
she looks like the whole world lives inside her

the bus jerks forward and rolls away
just before she disappears from view
I see her raise her bony finger
and point at me.

I look down at my fingertips
hoping they will look like they always do
each one with a swirling print
and an uneven fingernail.

I clench my fist
and dig my fingertips into my palms.

I close my eyes
and listen to the voices of strangers
as they pass me by.

Listen carefully.
Each one sounds like someone else. 

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