At the solstice, as the summer sun
was fiercely beating on the city’s streets,
I stood beside the bus stop for a while
and then took shelter underneath a tree.
And from that shade I looked around and saw
that roads and sidewalks both appeared ablaze.
And yet, amidst the flames, the people stood
with squinted eyes and peered and craned their necks,
impatient for the bus and its cooling bliss—
an air-conditioned heaven, sent on wheels.
But when it came, the bus was crowded, with
a press of bodies, radiating heat—
the women with their curving flesh exposed,
the bearded Jews, perspiring in their suits,
and all the others, from around the world,
as if about to fuse from summer’s heat.
I stood and breathed the humid air and thought,
in time, I will be home and free from this.
There was no a.c. in our flat. The fan
was only in the kitchen, waiting, still.
But I could strip off all my sweaty clothes
and in my vest and shorts await the eve.
And with that thought in mind, I stood and swayed,
from time to time in touch with a neighbor’s skin,
as damp as mine and just as warm or more,
as Brooklyn's south passed by, by summer lit.
2015 June 23rd, Tue, around 3:45 to 4:15 pm (returning home to Bensonhurst from grading NY State examinations at Grady High School in Brighton Beach, waiting first at the bus stop on Ocean Parkway and then riding on the B1 bus, which runs locally along Ocean Pkwy, Ave X and 86th Street) southwestern Brooklyn, New York