Five minutes from the station we’d picked them up
And reached no further than the bingo hall before
their ruckus on my mind promised to explode it, yes
yes, explode it all over them in bits so fine and slimy
they would have to scrape me off their clean white sneaks
and off the bus.
At minute seven. Was it?
To hell with time.
I listened — not to hear what they were saying —
My head throbbed with unsettled slime and
I listened to it like music, like clanging bus parts,
broken air conditioning, and them
it was them
They raised trust; Especially
the boy hovering in the isle.
The tension in his voice sometimes broke
as if muscles in his throat strained
to vocalize anecdotes, jokes
The little things they’d come to know over time:
Like how to use a transfer, and how to play ball.
He connected with the other boys,
especially the one Jamal, and
by chance, with stranger bodies
wriggling through the isle
like ultimate particles
made to connect
“Jamal,” I wanted to warn, “don’t trust that straining voice.
Don’t trust someone who asks you why you like “dumb” girls
Who makes you classify your favourites on a scale of 1 to 10
Who makes you fear rating her so high you’ll never live it down
Why shouldn’t you love her madly and truly according to your ability
Indeed, love her until your love’s exhausted
Your boys are slow to love, not wise
Why make them experts on your love’s deportment
In time, see if they don’t change their minds.”
But could Jamal read crazy ladies’ minds?
I wished. Read mine, Jamal. Read mine.
The others have first to find their hearts.