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Marie Ponsot

Metro Bus

1. We Take What We Can


Midnight, winter, corner of Elgin & Main,

men I’m afraid of; so far I’ve been wrong.

All four lurch and lean; a fifth snores in a stain

of his own liquids. I know I can’t belong

at this bus-stop at this time of night.

All five ignore me as I look alert,

pace briskly from edge to edge of pooled streetlight.

Do they know/ I don’t/ if the drunk fifth is hurt

& if he is, what to do.  Here an hour,

no phone, not one walker, just rush-rush cars,

stubbornly we six exert no power,

risk no looks. Waiting is who we are.


Bus at last. My relief smiles its trust.

The bus driver looks at me with pained disgust.


2. We Envision What We Can


August. After noon. Heat. Heat endured like fate

slows us, stuns. Hair curls. Eyes sting. The heat lasts

till 4 AM; the let-up lasts till 8,

when walkers quit. Only cars move fast.


My bus-stop neighbor gasps and fans. She prefers

to clean house for señoras who don’t mind

her grandbaby coming to work with her

in conditioned air, but they’re hard to find.

Things will be better for the Rosa baby

born in Texas: Americana citizen,

no problema, job, car, high-school maybe.

Envisioned, Rosa smiles & smiles again.


I blink to find that old wild dream alive.

Rosa invites her grandma out to drive.


1. For a Christmas Visitor


The fountained garden of the Museum

of Art becomes you in your clarity.

I often breakfast here. I like to come,

down from the medieval gallery

& its little ivories that strike me dumb,

to this water-music. Today I see

that what was lacking was your company . . .

the vivid child in you whom you summon

to scout out & open the lost famous gate

of the world of wishes. In you run

& with a rush of words leave fantasy

for forecast: “This wish is good. I choose this one.”

Selves drawn from self, you plan work you define;

you shine, good woman; garden & fountain shine.


2. A Century of Modern Sculpture


On the white wall: 4 bronze-black backs—Matisse

trying to muscle shoulder into arm;

up the steps: reason sports in a Calder piece;

a Dave Smith fusses; Benglis holds out gilt charm;

an eggsmash scrambles the post-modern soul.


I always make the same mistake. I come

toward sculpture to find, beyond my control,

some grail, some sign, hand-made, eloquently dumb,

set out for me to walk around & around

amazed as I listen & hear it hum.

It can happen. It happens, look, there by the door,

a stone girl proposes simple hands, her whole

body simple like the cup I came here for:

firm light lasts on her, the Flore of Maillol.

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