This morning the bus driver had an altercation with a young woman. I couldn't hear what they were discussing, but she seemed to be asking for some sort of apology. Their voices rose, he kept the bus idling at the green light, and soon everyone on the bus was looking at them. Then she got off and, as we pulled away, I saw her hands covering her face as she sobbed.
Another woman on the bus gently told the bus driver, "You know, sometimes you just have to say, 'I'm sorry. Have a nice day.'" This sparked a lively debate between that woman and another rider, which lasted a few heated blocks until they all got off. All along, the woman staunchly defended the weeping lady - just because her feelings had been hurt.
I wish I could have told the young woman what had happened once the bus pulled away. She stood on the curb sobbing, brushing the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand like a lost child. That was the start to her day. She'll never know that half the bus looked on in sympathy as we pulled away, and that a brave woman defended her. All she had was the confusion and hurt.
It's a small thing, that woman's unconsoled pain. I know that. But still, the world seemed just a little out of balance when the consolation, the empathy she seemed to need, drove away without her knowing it. That's what poetry is for, I think. To try to nudge the world back into balance by snatching at those sparks of life that we might otherwise miss and breathing them into flame for us to see. I wish I could give that woman a poem.