The sizzling boulevard climbed and where
it daled, I waited for a downtown 1.
Shielded by beige hat and cheap sunglasses,
I unfolded my number’s bus schedule,
read, folded, then unfolded it again,
took refuge in its printed promises.
Mad dragon, August, unreasonably
blasted the bus stop’s bench un-seatable.
No oasis in the desert blue sky,
but in cement-rooted neighborhood,
a maturing tree in a square-cut bed
cast a small shadow over the sidewalk.
A younger woman and I shared thin shade,
communicated with our quiet smiles.
Blessed Sacrament bells soon counted ten.
Steepled keepers of our precious hours,
ringing time awakened our memories.
Her voice tolled with childhood recollections.
“In my country, I grew up on a farm
where only the village church bells kept us
informed of the day’s hourly progress.
A clock was a rich person’s luxury,
but the bells were enough for most of us,
they used to tell me when to go to school.”
I chimed in about Sundays in Brooklyn
when insistent bells commanded our Mass
attendance, early, mid-morning, or late.
Then, services and priests were plentiful
and Catholics feared and felt obligated
to obey our so-called Mother, the Church.
The bus came after we’d exchanged stories.
One after the other we showed passes
that passengers, who ride often, purchase.
Then, as if we’d had no conversation,
and bells had not rung in old times, we sat
ourselves apart and never spoke again.