Eighth Avenue

Philip Lawrence
1 min readMay 6, 2023

Five-thirty p.m., 1985,
a crowded bus

the passengers generate heat as
the men stand round-shouldered
reading newspapers, and we all
sway to the rhythm of the city traffic

I scan the rows for an empty seat and
I angle past the others, ignoring all
except for one

he stoops under a worn gray hat,
an overcoat overwhelms his slight body
and his dark eyes glance from row to row
with urgency as the bus halts

a seat opens and the little man
moves toward the vacancy.
I am closer, and I will have it before him

the man grips the overhead bar for balance
he is short and his coat sleeve slides
to his elbow and faded blue numbers
appear on his forearm

they are clear enough.
I stand motionless as he slides by me
there is room for him to pass, but

he steps sideways
he does not look up
he says nothing