Out of the flood of high-schoolers
who saturate this bus wall to wall,
a long tall young woman,
her hair gathered high overhead,
plugs the gap next to me.
She whips fast through
Chinese flash cards done by hand,
jabs the characters with her finger,
moves her lips with each, flip flip
flip. Crams the deck inside
a lime-green box, stuffs the
box in her backpack, rifles the pack
for a book. Grabs her pen.
It’s broken. She stares shocked
at her wet blue fingertips,
motions them about
like new and strange things.
The old guy at her side, me,
hands her a wad of tissues.
An olive-shaded woman across the aisle
hands her a spare pen. The girl thanks us,
begins furiously underlining
her paperback of Brave New World.
by David P. Miller
Editor’s Note: The careful imagery in this poem creates a hyperrealistic portrait of a young woman, and then elevates the entire narrative with the surprising nod to dystopia in the last line.