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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One thought on “The Old Man on the Bus (in the Andes)

  1. Wow, Magdalena! I LOVE how you have placed the bus in a valley anyone can identify with. You manage to move this old man into an archetypal landscape this is incredibly powerful and solitary, all at the same time.

    I may have told you this already, but just in case I didn’t, I want you to know:. This summer I’m going on two-month RV trip with my nearing-ninety Godmother and her cat Pepe le Mew. I leave for the US in a week. The RV is huge, 37-feet. My Godmother will be driving and towing an SUV the entire way. She was a Flamenco dancer during her entire professional life. I’m going to try to blog about our trip and write a book about the 64 beautiful years she and my Godfather, a Venezuelan movie star (I kid you not!), were married, until Raul died last fall one month shy of his 97th birthday.

    Hope you and Daniel are well.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

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