Chicago: on the Bus, off the Bus


Each of us waited at the bus stop
late on Saturday night.
He—maybe twenty, in jeans,
unshaven and thin;
I—three times his age, in a business suit,
bearded and plump.
We boarded together in silence.
He seemed to be napping for awhile,
head in his hands
on the back of a seat rail.

And then I felt his hand
on my shoulder
“What bus is this?” he asked.
The Number Three

“Where does it go?”
Well, I’m from out of town,
but it goes north on Michigan Avenue.
He thanked me, made a phone call
that I couldn’t overhear.

“Where are we now?”
About 400 North Michigan Avenue.
Preparing to step off,
he turned to face me.
“Thanks, man, for being so nice.”
That’s OK, you’re welcome.
“You know, you could have been
an asshole, but you weren’t.
So, thanks again.”
It’s really all right.
I was young once, too.
He still looked grateful
as he staggered out,
but eyed me quizzically,
searching for some vestige
of that other youth
once tripping through the night
and looking for direction.

George H. Northrup