on the bus, after we heard the news,
I saw a woman softly sobbing into her hands;
beside her was a Whole Earth shopping bag
containing what must be heirloom or designer apples
that were almost orange in color –
perhaps a miniature pumpkin,
if such a thing exists –
and what resembled a purple pomegranate.
another woman was picking at her nails
like a monkey searching for nits.
the crying woman patted the pockets
of her all-weather jacket;
maybe she was searching for a handkerchief
to wipe her face?
but then I noticed that her face
was darkening, like the tears
were soot, and by mingling with her skin,
they were turning her entire person
into black-and-white, like an old-fashioned movie;
soon, everyone on the bus
was fading into black,
or vanishing altogether
as they bleached out of my vision.
I looked down at my hands
and I, too, no longer
had any color except shadows
and pale, ghostly flesh –
it seemed like early Halloween,
or an Edgar Allen Poe tale come to life.
someone on the bus said,
I think we’re heading back into the 1950s,
before color TV, and someone else said, no,
the 1930s, before Technicolor hit Hollywood:
it’s like in The Wizard of Oz, in Kansas,
before Dorothy meets the Munchkins,
or follows the yellow brick road.
the woman stopped her sobbing, sniffled, then said,
yes, we’re going backwards, to when white men
didn’t have to share the country with anyone else.
Alison Jennings is retired from teaching and accounting; throughout her life, she has composed over 400 poems, and recently published several of them, in print journals and online. She lives in Seattle, where she writes poetry whenever she has time.
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