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  • Samantha Hoch

Islands on the Bus

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

My seat is near the back,

I’m still an island in the sea

Less majestic;

More isolated.

The bundle of sweaters to my left

Mumbles something about the time

I’m pretending not to notice

But everything here is troubling.

Ahead a pair of eyes

Peers at me from behind

A furry black snout

Investigating the scents

Neighboring us both.

I’m pretending not to notice

As his little handbag


Conceals his identity

But not his subtle whimper.

I wish I had a cavern of my own.

One man stands with his arm in the air

Gripping cold steel

Swaying with the movement

That joins us both.

He’s an island too.

The fray of his hood

Brushes across his eyebrow,

His indifferent overcast irises

Fixed on the muddy floor.

It’s like he doesn’t hear

The infant screeching in front of us,

Pleading for some respite

From the thickness of the heat.

His new lungs create a vacuum

That fills with the stale

Collective exhale

Encapsulated in this space.

His mother’s eyes survey her neighbors

Her tenderly subdued anxiety

More evident in the way she rocks him,

Than in her soft quiver

Of a melody.

Her breasts probably ache to nurse him

….I’m pretending not to notice

Her struggle between nurturing and shame.

The graying stubble to her left

Pretends not to notice too

But the knitted beanie that is hiding

His sun-spotted complexion

Can’t conceal his

wandering eye

He’s taking too much space

With his entitled posture

Feet planted far apart,

His lean slightly to the right.

The screeching baby shares the airwaves

With a screeching lady on the phone

Her mindless cackle tells us all

That she’s an island too.

Rain hammers on the glass

Tying bellows all together

Into a pounding number

I’m not likely to forget.

I’m pretending not to notice

I’d have to be dead not to notice.

Islands in a sea

Where the sea is irrelevant

And the islands never meet.

My temple throbs on the cold glass

Six more stops until I arrive

At the lush archipelago

Where the air is sweet

The breeze carries a song

My favorite song.

There the sun is surely splitting

The tufts of sooty gloom

That weep on this dreadful place.

My hand ventures toward the yellow wire

That will lead to my escape...

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