Morning rain on a bus to Paterson


Sept 15, 1978


It rains this morning, a slow steady drip tumbling down from weary gray skies, autumnís fading glory hidden in the fair mists that are strung along the tops of the trees like a beaded curtain.

The blurry shadows of the buildings flicking in the haze, fading in and out of focus like the bad reception of a TV set with no antenna.

Everything seems so careless here and without design, full of sadness generated by the tears flowing down the bus window near by face, each jerked with each jerk of the bus in a modern dance.

The rumbling starts again, groaning under us as the bus doors squeak closed after letting on another batch of riders, biding off the storm at their heals.

Across the aisle, the large window smears the world into a mash of muted colors as a man and woman in the long seat cling to each other to rid each other of the chill.

I hear them whisper, but not what they say, and feed into their low talk my own thoughts of how alone I feel as we ride together, wondering if they feel as alone as I do.

Do they notice the dismal landscape that stretches out along the route of the bus, the skeleton of the world ripe with loneliness and rain?

The last seat in the back stinks of wine and the unwashed body of an old man stretched alone it, I hear his loneliness in each snore. A shopping bag rustles in the seat in front of him, one of two, clutched by the old woman dressed in dark clothing that nearly matches the color of the sky, the uncertain patterns of her dress showing at the edges of her ragged sleeves. She looks sore and wounded, her coat bleeding fabric like a dying scarecrow, and her eyes show how alone she feels.

A flash of dull light off a mirror draws my attention to the pretty woman a few seats up, who stares at herself, powdering her nose, then painting her lips, yet still canít get the look of loneliness out of her expression. At her side, a young child sits and stares at me, her stare as absent as her motherís, her gaze passing over me to look at the other people, the man in a business suit hiding behind his newspaper, the man with a lunch bucket clutching the seat rail for his next stop. I stare away out the window again, at the rain, at the mists, at the world fading around us, isolating each of us in our own separate pocket, and I sigh.


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