Chinatown Bus by Emmaly Saliga ’16

Emmaly Saliga ’16 is one of three prize winners from Word Hotel, the literary journal of the Spalding University BFA program. Emmaly’s poem is titled “Chinatown Bus”.

“Chinatown Bus”

I count Waffle Houses

too many tangled up in Owenton

and then Ohio walled in with them

The fire escape is open leaking

rain into mauve and blue velvet

static hair stuck in patterns

a man changes a tire

on the side of the road

One person looks back from row three

eyes beamed through misty drops

One person uses the tiny restroom

with the window where the trees go by

smeared into warped watercolor

pictures that wipe your eyes sideways

Yesterday, I cried about a boy

who died when I was seven

would come down the stairs sitting down

bumping one at a time sick and tired

then run into his little brother’s arms

I remember sitting in my mother’s lap

salty tendrils of hair sticking to my snotty nose

baby, he went home

Isaiah is an angel

An angel that a little girl can’t see

Crisp to fading away too fast

And I cried for a man

sitting on the New York street

this bus will break over

Don’t even know but for the news of him

whose wife lay in a death bed

of teal tile and empty bags strewn

heroin in her blood­­head cracked

on the soap dish­­seafoam filled with red

like fruit spilling seeds they can’t grow there

they can’t grow anywhere

Can’t grow here and shoot up

veins of green and twined through

preoccupied with growing towards the sun

Downtown Cincinnati Keep right

and the sun is edging the skin of the earth

red like Isaiah’s blood