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I Could Swear I Hear Song

I Could Swear I Hear Song

There is a morning bus with women bound for work and school, for all I know, perhaps, romantic rendezvous, baristas and bank clerks, anarchists, interns, teachers, gurus, CPAs, art students, attorneys, hooligan babes.

Complexion latino, Nordic, ruddy, café au lait, noir, hair blonde and gray, blue streakt, pink, henna colored, green, braided, curled, pony-tailed, buzzed, arms and legs tattooed, ears and eyebrows pierced, and not tattooed, not pierced, brightly colored scarves furled around pale necks, suits, leather jackets, jeans, long, loose-fitting dresses, short, tight skirts, barelegged, black tights, fishnets, running shoes, boots, heels, they are tough and tender-eyed, laconic, laid-back, loony, reticent, somber, thoughtful, gay, hip, nonchalant, chic, toting backpacks, book bags, yoga mats, intent on graphic novels, zombies, Zadie Smith, collected works of Adrienne Rich, anatomy books, sketchpads, iPhones. Thumbs twitch in syncopated frenzy texting and twitting and gaming. What secrets do they share? what gossip? what banality? what intimations of beauty?

They are my age and my niece's age and my niece's daughter's age. If they notice me at all, it is only in passing. This is as it should be. What matters, I am not dead to their charms nor immune to their mystery, desire no more dead in this heart than in those hearts that beat with the rhythm of the river, the trochaic wash of wave onto shore, the fall of light onto page, the rhyme of leaves shivering with amaze.

Across the bridge curling in to the city center, they gather their things, button coats, zip jackets, pull scarves tight, pour from the bus at each stop, heels clacking along shadowed sidewalks, across broad plazas, past food carts and opium dens, bound for whatever beyond the day may hold. I could swear I hear song that stains blue the air and catches winter light the wind blows back across the river with tambourines and guitars that glint in morning sun and quiver with yearning.

"I Could Swear I Hear Song" previously appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

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