Monday, April 16, 2012

On the Bus


One day in seventh grade
Robin made the mistake
of wearing white pants.

Her jacket wasn’t long enough to cover
the small, but spreading, red spot
on the seat of those white, white pants
as she got on the bus.

We weren't friends,
but there was no animosity between us.
Two boys snickered
and I turned away,
embarrassed for her.
It was only 7:15.
She had a long day ahead.
……..
I watched her get on the bus
to go home,
same white pants,
jacket tied at her waist.
She kept her head up,
as she walked toward
the back
staring defiantly,
not looking left or right,
not meeting my eyes.
She sat alone,
turned to stone,
as the taunts ricocheted off her.

Image: Red Roofs by Marc Chagall, 1954

I still remember this true-to-my-less-than-trustworthy-memory vividly.  I still feel so sorry and embarrassed for the 12 year old girl I sort-of knew.  And I still feel bad that I was too afraid to speak out on her behalf.  I hope she doesn't remember this as well as I do.  The writing prompt that brought this memory back to me can be found at The Mag.  The poem, along with many others, can also be found at dVerse open link night.

48 comments:

  1. I like this. You saw red and white the same way I did.

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    1. Thanks Lucy, I'll check yours out now.

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  2. nice - I'll bet there aren't many women who haven't had a similar experience...

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    1. Yes, if only we could realize it at the time and draw comfort from it.

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    1. Yes, and I realize it's not a pretty topic for poetry.

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  4. Oh, I remember experiencing that too. A lot of my GFs did, but I was one of the later to bloom ones, at almost 16 and still playing child games when my friends were hoodwinking boys. :) Funny us back then, we seemed to take it all in our stride.

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  5. Incredible write! I have been that young woman, trying to make it home with a sweater tied around my waist. Thankfully there were no taunts.

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    1. Thank you Helen. It's a very vulnerable feeling, I have experienced it too.

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  6. The taunts can surely suck
    Can't say I've ever had such bad luck
    Not that I would care
    Let em stare..haha

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  7. Yay Pat! I was wondering if any men dared to comment. I'm glad you did.

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  8. I love that the Chagall brought this memory to life.
    Are't we interesting creatures?

    By the way, I think we've all been there, once or twice.
    Hopefully without the taunts!

    =)

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    1. That's true Sue, I think all of us (women) have been there, but her experience stays with me more than my own. And, yes...interesting to get this from Chagall, lol.

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  9. Mary, Your poem is so beautifully staged and presented. Every girl should feel this comfortable with her human functions. I hope the day will come when kindness overrides ignorant taunts, that sting for a lifetime. Thank you for your brave poetic response here.

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  10. Simone de Beauvoirs protegees are not so easily intimidated, Lionesses that they are, like Robin

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    1. Thanks Kutamun, that's a great thing to remember.

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  11. I have had that dreaded experience...I too have those echoes of shame within me for times I should have not been silent.

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  12. This is just brilliant. Brave and brilliant.

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    1. Thank you Dave. This was not my easiest write.

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  13. This reminds me of an incident I had in the 7th grade. I wasn't very popular back then with some girls, but even though they didn't like me too much, they didn't even have the gall to laugh at me. I guess they knew that this could happen to them too, ha, ha!

    Great piece of writing!

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    1. Thanks very much Mara. I'm glad you didn't get laughed at.

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  14. What a powerful write...your best...

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    1. I like that the girl held her head up high, we've all been there at some point. A great write, Mary, and I disagree, it is a great topic for poetry, its a very evocative subject:)

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    2. Brigid - Thanks so much. And good to 'see' you again!

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  15. ...isn't that every young girls' fear? Oh my.... I like that she held her head high. A fine topic for poetry.... it is in fact, what poetry should be more often!

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    1. Yes, she was a tough one. Thank you very much Margaret.

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  16. i am glad in the end that she could keep some of her pride...what a hard passage into womanhood...and how cruel the kids can be in that moment too..

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  17. I remember a similar incident at the shopping center in my mid-twenties when I wore white shorts! I also remember the days my boobs leaked milk and I had to walk around with damp-patch nipples in my blouse and tee-shirts! Mother Nature can be a git at times.

    I have to admire where your thought process went from the prompt. Goodness knows - we women see enough red in our time, we could paint sky-scrapers...lol...!

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  18. I hope she doesn't remember either, but these things do happen, as many of us echo here.

    Glad she held her head high!

    Yes, I like where your mind went with this too. Well done.

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  19. In the end, I can identify with her, and I can identify with you. There is one incident like this that I still kick myself for...the sin of ommision.

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  20. This happened to me and I was mortified . Nice capture Mary.

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  21. wonderfully poetric tribute to an event that was surely a rite-of-passage for us all. tenderly penned sister :)

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  22. This is wonderful. What a plucky little girl. It's hard to be brave at that age. I think many of us have similar memories. Thank you.

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  23. Awww how sad for her. How sad for you that it should have stayed with you for so many years too. I'm sure she would have forgiven you and, I hope you wouldn't allow it to happen anymore. We live and we learn, eh.

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  24. Oh Mary--this brought back memories. Very vivid and real, you catapult us back to middle school with a vengeance here.

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  25. It's always hard to know what to say
    especially at that young age
    and for such a shame-laden thing.
    Damn society!!!

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  26. Absolutely powerful writing. I felt the embarrassment and could see her stony gait toward the back of the back of the bus. Brave and home run.

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  27. I didn't know where you were going with that first verse, but by the second verse you had me hooked to the end. A simple story, but so effective in sketching out the characters of everyone in the poem.

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  28. Oh, definitely a tough situation for this poor girl. Fine job narrating the piece poetically, illustrating this girls incident here, yet for women it's a universal fear I'm assuming and one you poeticized admirably here with genuine emotion to the situation and for this girl. Thanks

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  29. Poor thing... I'm sure she remembers. I have to wonder why she didn't go to the nurse and call her mom for a change of clothes. I cringe at the thought of her having to go through a whole day of school like that.

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  30. It's a hard embarrassment to live through, especially years ago when we all grew up and things weren't quite as out in the open. There was an innocence back then. I wonder if it would be the same today, where condoms are available in schools to kids as young as twelve and even middle school pregnancies are becoming more common. http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2012/04/06/springfield_approves_school_condom_policy/

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  32. You took me back there in just a few words. The words "white pants" did it. It was a white skirt for me, which I could turn. I've blocked out the humiliation, and have held on the the ingenuity.

    I loved this poem, and the empathy you still carry to this day.

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  33. Thank you to everyone who has commented, I appreciate each and every one. This seems to be a nearly universal experience among the women. It's too bad we feel so all alone at the time.

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