Riding The Bus

The bus pulled up and I got on

It was empty, ‘cept for two

A lady sitting at the front

And a man all dressed in blue

The lady sat in front alone

Her parcels by her side

The man, he stood alone in back

And I got on for my ride.

The sign in front said “Do Not Smoke”

Capacity…that’s blurry

I couldn’t see it from where I sat

But, I was in no hurry

I walked on up, to check it out

And read the aged old sign

It said “seating room is 63”

And standing …twenty nine

I reached my stop and I got off

Not thinking much I guess.

But that man was still way in the back

And that lady in her dress

Was motionless up in the front,

Her parcel by her side

They hadn’t moved since I got on

And it was an hour ride

Others joined us on the bus

But all were gone before

There was just these two,  still motionless

When I walked out the door.

Each day for weeks I rode this bus

And each day,  like before

The lady sat down front alone

And the man, behind the door

It never made much sense to me

He never changed his spot

It was if he were a sentinel

To guard this bus…his lot

One day I asked the driver

Why he never did sit down

He said “You must be new here”

“You can’t be from this town”

I said “Why did that matter?”

He just laughed and looked at me

“It’s never gonna change here”

“There’s a certain courtesy”

I didn’t understand him

And he never put forth more

So, I went on down the bus aways

And I sat  just by the door

I passed my stop and rode a while

While others filtered through

Then all at once the lady rose

Followed by the man in blue

She left out front, him through the back

And it left me there alone

Well, except for the old driver

So, I rode around to home

I saw as we drove past them

On our return route down the Strand

The lady and The Man in Blue

Were walking, holding hands

I thought “What gives?, they sit apart”

She forward, him in back

Now here they are together

They’re a train on the same track

I asked the driver to explain

This sight that I had seen

He said “Just wait a minute”

“And it won’t seem so extreme”

He stopped the bus and came to me

And he walked past the back door

“See that faded line there miss”

As he pointed to the floor

I looked real close and there it was

It was a line in pastel blue

“Now, listen here’s some history”

“This is something new to you”

“Way back when, a lifetime back”

“Segregation ruled the land”

“You didn’t mix outside your race”

“You would never understand”

“The line there on the floor shows”

“Where the buses made their mark”

“The white folks stood on the drivers side”

“And the back was for the dark”

“skinned folks who rode with us”

“I know it don’t sound fair”

“But that’s the wasy it was back then”

“I know, ’cause I was there”

“This couple…they confuse you”

“Her in front and him in back”

“Did you ever stop and notice”

“She is white and he is black?”

“But, that’s not the way things are today”

I said, still unsure of these two

He said “I know, my dear”

“But this way’s all they knew”

“They’ve been a pair for twenty years”

“They’ve rode this bus for more”

“When he first rode, it was so bad”

“He came through the back door”

“He couldn’t get on through the front”

“They wouldn’t let him pass”

“In fact once some one threatened”

“him, they would soak him down with gas”

“So he went on back, through the back door”

“And then he crossed that line”

“And he’s been doing so for sixty years”

“He’s done it all this time”

“I never charge them to get on”

“I charge them when they leave”

I said “I don’t see them pay”

He smiled and scratched his sleeve

“I never charge them money”

“No, that just would not be right”

“I tell them to just get safe home”

“And  to have a lovely night”

“The next day when they board the bus”

“She smiles and looks at me”

“And as I look down to the back”

“I smile…and so does he”

“I know that it is different”

“But down here, it was the way”

“And this white girl and this black man”

“helped to show me shades of grey”

“He’ll always ride in back there”

“And she’ll be in front with me”

“But, you know that they’re so happy”

“And that’s why they ride for free”

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