On the bus, men with too much time on their hands
run through a litany of races Black, White, Hispanic
naming the markers that divide them.
They remind me of Robert Frost
repairing stone walls,
questioning the need for them,
and his neighbor's response:
good fences make good neighbors.
I am riding the bus because my car,
sign of white privilege,
has died from neglect.
You put your brown hands inside it,
and they came out black, covered with a substance
from deep inside the earth.
You said you could fix it.
On the bus, I notice things
I might never see from my car:
the marcelled hair of the Black woman
who gets off at my stop,
the men at the group home who smoke on their stoop
every morning, the regular pattern
of the world that surrounds me.
In my car, I zoomed past ostentatious houses,
avoiding this road, teeming with people,
and the slow-moving traffic they inspire.
When you put your hands inside my engine,
I trust that you will fix it.
But really what happens
is that we become a spectacle:
you with your grease-covered hands and your lovely curving ass
and I with my pale silent shadow on the porch.
My car never runs the same again.
August 1998; November 1998; June 2003