A Bus Ride

It was an evening of grey sky
with the sun scything through the bland
thickness of cloud — the overhang
of jealous autumn preventing
summer from returning. Nothing
exceptional, about this bus
ride, except that  instead of
riding upstairs I sat downstairs,
traffic side, by the window, where
a shopper from Clery’s and Arnotts

demanded gangway as she plonked
herself beside me. I regretted
my choice of seating, wishing for
the cigarette and evening-paper
men upstairs. But I dared not ask
her to move, shift all her baggage,
risk the evil glare — fear had me
a prisoner. Then, we were halfway
up North Strand, a laneway I had
never noticed before between

a hardware shop and an Italian
fish & chip, a narrow laneway
which seemed to rise toward a cottage,
two windows either side of an
opened half-door and an elderly
woman waited, smiling with
unabashed delight at a girl
walking toward her. A girl, my age,
fourteen, maybe younger, her face
shadowed by evening burnished hair;
The sun still sheening upon her.

Jimmy O’Connell