The Old Man on the Bus (in the Andes)

He was beautiful
I watched him enter the bus,
looking intently at who was sitting in front
He scanned the seats,
perhaps someone would get up
offer him a seat, but everyone pretended not to notice.

He stood close to where I was seated
hung onto the metal sweaty rails, resigned
used ropes looped around his hands
dirty white and blue
wired to catch a horse, a cow, or a calf,
precisely then, an animal unexpectedly caught.

A young woman with tight pants
her black hair pulled back
voluptuous and respectful
like a ripe mango, orange and full
offered him her seat.
The warmth of her buns and crotch held him tight.

This old Latino man sat straight,
his salt and pepper greased hair
chiseled by a small black plastic comb
into a sharp line
reminiscent
of a distant plowed field.

I could not take my eyes OFF of him:
his wool shawl wrapped over his extended
chin, his cream colored sweater brushed,
but his hands, his finger nails, full of dirt
tapped a young woman’s back with child
and offered her his seat. She refused.

He sat down again, chin forward,
a narrow mustache above his lip
a well worn life line.
In the middle of nowhere, in a narrow rocky valley
he got off the bus, a lonely
striking old man. I felt left behind.

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