The boy hugged his intstrument case.
The woman who’d pulled up
at the bus stop was saying
through her rolled-down window
that she knew his parents,
that everybody knew his parents.
And he was thinking
his parents had told him
never to accept a ride
from a stranger.
But this stranger
was a woman who was saying
both this parents’ names.
And then she said his name
and, leaning to open the door,
asked if he was on his way
to his clarinet lesson.
the boy said, “this is an oboe.”
“I bet the oboe’s hard,”
the woman said with a smile
he’d never seen his mother smile,
the woman’s eyes somehow looking
as if nothing in life could be hard.
The door had swung wide.
“Well, why don’t you get in
and tell me where to take you?”
The boy replied, “I’d better not.”
“No, you’re right,” she said;
“Never ride with strangers.
Well, then, please shut the door.”
Waiting for the bus,
the boy wished he’d gotten in
but couldn’t recall
if she’d given her name.
book, Learning to Dance, was
published in 1991 by Ninety-Six Press, which also published his second
collection, Predicaments, in 2001. His first published poem
appeared in FIELD in 1969. Over the
years he has had poems published in such magazines as The Southern Review, Poetry, The Shenandoah Review, and The Seneca Review. He teaches at