DC PLACES ISSUE

Yvette Neisser

 

THE SLOW PASSAGE TO ANACOSTIA

If I stare long enough into the relentless dark,
the X2 pulls to the corner, opens its tired jaw
and pushes ahead lurch by lurch
into the resistance of H Street: dusk

sinking into sidewalks and take-out delis,
hot dog vendors in empty lots,
liquor store cashiers sealed behind glass.
And within this moving husk, fifty strangers

confined together but for the door
that cringes open at each stop.
Headphones spill faint rhythms
into the bus’s half-silence, the steady hum

of engine droning on pavement
where no one speaks above the clink
of coins in the machine—until one man’s voice
pierces thick air, cursing

the slow passage to Anacostia,
cursing left turns and lights fading to yellow.
No one lifts an eye except
to gaze through scratched windows.

Outside, the usual: kids strutting,
shouting their own praises, streaming off
the football field or out of church,
one car radio blaring rap at a stoplight—

and here, one man’s voice is a cry of longing
to which no one will listen—
a cry of stasis, of unlit bus stops
and forsaken destinations,

of the tense space between a man and woman
waiting on a winter day. And still,
the X2 follows H Street all the way
to the city’s edge until something pulls

its wheels like a magnet
back into the gridded patterns of Northeast,
where this man’s cry lingers like a vibration
caught between the hum and the ear.

 


Yvette Neisser
's poems and translations of poetry have appeared in Innisfree Poetry Journal, the International Poetry Review, and The Potomac Review, among other places. She is currently translating the work of Argentinian poet Luis Alberto Ambroggio for a bilingual edition of his poems. Her book manuscript, "Fields of Vision," was a finalist for the 2004 Gival Press Award. She resides in Silver Spring, MD with her husband and two children.

 

Published in Volume 7, Number 3, Summer 2006.

 

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