Because our home’s so far away,
I’m the first picked up by the bus each day
and the very first stop after school –
which makes every student on our route
sit forty minutes more each afternoon
and me, an unwelcome sight.
Full of hormones and hate,
those in last few rows of the long, yellow bus
moan and groan
as soon as I climb on,
making me nervously skitter to the nearest seat
where I crouch and hide and wait.
The hardcore insults come later
cloaked in the anonymity of the rumbling and motion
of our rolling prison.
Deaf to what he hears,
the bus driver just stares ahead
and goes where he’s told.
United by the same neighborhood,
in the opposite direction,
they snarl and nip at the back of my neck –
piercing my thin skin.
It’s us versus them,
in every nasty word.
But the “them” they think I am
is absolutely absurd.
When their rabid, backseat words
have more than their usual bite,
I step from the bus
and race to the woods,
searching for a way to shake the hurt
in the thick, dim patches of unpeopled forest.
I disappear among the ember-colored leaves
which cap the many trees of Shoreacres
before the heavy freeze
steals the color from the land.
And there, I simply am.
Where I step to the sound of my breathing,
the movement of the clouds,
and to the busy hush of forest life about,
reminding me to go about my own;
and to heal my wounds
with the comforts of home.