Sunday Service: Stephanie Ford Poem

Regional Transportation District

On the bus I saw the scientists. They were re-enchanting
the commute. Atom after atom exploded for them;
every instant they looked at—a kiss, a tattoo—
bloomed, and I learned to hate my kaleidoscope
for making such cold work of beauty. Things change!
At the back of the bus, professor-poets schmoozed Western buddhists
and their backstage passes dazzled us all.
A child, I wanted the buddhists’ marigold minds
and t-shirts, but the scientists wore mild beards of wonderment
and every rider turned a blind eye
to the small-time pushers, the new money planting our medians,
the government building’s blacked-out windows,
and the small way my friend with the yellow braids
vanished. Every loss is a chrysalis, said the oldest poet
through his four-part beard, a living mandala on the 204.
Beard like a river, a tantrum, a tendrilled florescence,
and I pulled the bell-string, exercised my small power. In memoriam
I fixed a dead-grass soup, a weedy tea—scent of paste,
of making. Now the driver wears high-end headphones
and I see the signs for peace and anarchy
switchbladed into safety glass, the scientists
taking pills in precise measurements, pale tongues of gum
stabbed by poets’ pencil tips. The buddhists gone bald
and gossiping in the back, everyone reciting
an abracadabra: Prayer wheels. Power plants. Bluebells. Bus tokens.

Stephanie Ford is from Boulder, Colorado, and now lives in Los Angeles. Her poems have appeared most recently in Tin House, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere.