Poem by Rob O’Donnell
A mother wipes her baby’s mouth with a dingy cotton sleeve;
The tell-tale pucker of the ones with no teeth:
A hooded, bespectacled beard
Tells everyone his nine year old grandson,
Whom he never sees, has begun
To think for himself.
It is the day of baggage carts:
A red one is filled with tied plastic bags,
Their unknown contents’ papery rustle
Punctuating the starts and stops.
In an umbrella on four wheels,
The wet-mouthed child bays for its milk.
Another one’s mother in a stained hoodie,
Spider leg eyelashes and pickled eyes,
Shoves crackers and juice at a blonde mass squirming,
Unable to be still.
Maple dreadlocks and Beats and camo pants sketching
Art school dreams on yellow lined paper,
Charcoal staining his fingers.
Ka-ching whirrrrr! Ka-ching whirrrr! The fare
Is two dollars, but
What if she doesn’t have enough?
Can I borrow a quarter? Who’s got
Later, in the back, a face tattoo
Says, “I’ll give you a buck to use your phone.”
Not this time.
Out the windows its halal meat
And African hair, plantains and potatoes and
Hunt Brothers Pizza.
Next Stop: Cleveland and Northern Plaza. Stop Requested.
The bags in their cart, the kid in her stroller and the humans stream
Out the back door as
The toothless beard in glasses gives
Tropical colored suckers to the little blonde girl.