Night on the 21A --
Flourescent light shines out
on the corner of Lake and Stevens.
Six girls, hijabs pulled tight,
fabric shallow against the depth of skin,
chatter their way on board. The bus wakes:
women's eyes rise from paperbacks, newspapers.
Conversations lull. And the men, the men of the 21A shift in their seats,
hungry. The girl with the blue scarf and fur-lined hood smiles,
licks her lips, cell phone lighting up
her sweatshirt pocket, then the six settle up front,
their tongues braiding languages -- straddling, always straddling.
At Lake and Chicago a drunk in the back pulls himself up from his pool.
Hey! Hey girls! he slurs, standing near the rear exit, I love you!
The six shift in their seats, laugh loud. Who? Yeah who? Who do you love?
You! I love all a you! All a you pretty girls!
We love you, too! We love you! We love you! they say.
He leans over a row of velour seats,
I love them pretty girls. They giggle while the woman of the 21A
raise cautious eyebrows. Love them pretty girls.
He stumbles out and the six call after him
We love you! Bye! We love you!
The bus jumps forward and the six rifle through their bags
for what cosmetics they are allowed to wear.
At Lake and Grand, they'll get off the bus,
those girls with their covered heads,
and think about when and in front of whom
they will show their hair.
Juror comments: Hair was selected for the 2009 cycle of mnartists.org's What Light Poetry Project by poet Connie Wanek, who remarks, "This poem has a wealth of detail, and thus it comes alive. The mundanity of the dialogue works paradoxically to deepen the tension of the encounter. The girls, six strong, are insouciant because they are together; if the drunk were accosting a single individual, the poem's tone would be very different."
About the poet: Darci Dawn Schummer is a graduate of Hamline University's MFA program. She primarily writes short fiction, but she enjoys the challenge of writing poetry. And she enjoys letting a good poem roll over her while she walks along a coastline, strolls through a park, or sits beneath tree. She teaches English at Globe University.
About her poetry, Schummer writes: "What I find so fascinating about poetry is its economy, its attention to word choice. I have tried to cultivate the poet's eye, paying careful attention to each word I choose, no matter what genre I'm working in. Attempting this cultivation has been invaluable to me as a writer. As a teacher, I incorporate poetry into my lessons to show my students the difference that one word can make."
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