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Intoxicated Crow on a Trailways Bus

December, 1984, in the early afternoon,
I board a bus in Billings, Montana,
for the three-hour trip to Sheridan, Wyoming.
A college student going home for Christmas,
I sit behind and to the right of the driver.
Storm clouds gather, as the bus leaves town.

An hour later, he gets on at Crow Agency,
sits next to me, tells me he's Crow.
I tell him I'm one small part Cherokee,
the truth, but he doesn't respond.
I ask where he's going.
He says nothing—we ride in silence.
It starts to snow.

In the darkness about twenty miles outside of Sheridan,
the bus is surrounded by white.
The driver, a robust black man, slows down.
Wipers slap their own rhythm against the windshield.

The Crow tells me he's scared.
I ask why—he doesn't reply.
He stands, stumbles to the back,
returns, places his long legs over my short ones.

The busybody behind me asks if I'm comfortable.
I tell her I'm fine—I'm almost home, anyway.
She marches to the driver,
tells him about the drunk Indian on my lap.
After glancing in our direction,
the driver pulls the bus to the side of the road,
approaches the Crow, gives his shoulders a rough shake,
carries him off the bus.
Driver and Crow disappear in the swirling white.

 

Intoxicated Crow on a Trailways Bus Page 2

I see no buildings, no trees,
nothing to shelter one ejected from a bus.
The driver returns, mumbles,
puts the bus in gear.
Wondering, I disembark in Sheridan
to begin my Christmas vacation.
This poem was published in the 2014 issue of Serendipity Poets Journal.