The Number 25

It was a bendy bus.
Those that stood on the bend
slowly rotated as we turned
the corner.

Dulce et decorum est, pro patrium mori.
It is a sentence I remember from
my schooldays. I wonder vaguely if
I remember it correctly.

I look around.
So many faces
of so many colours;
dark brown, lighter chestnut,
or lighter still with olive tones.

I was the palest.
The only one with red hair too.
Yet we are all the same, the
bus people. Just trying to get
somewhere.

Silence.
Not ordinary silence,
but the inner silence which
comes from a mixture of noises
lacking in information.
The engine. Voices, jumbled together.
A girl at the front speaks to her friend
her eyes wide and earnest. She
is too far away to be heard.

"Sorry"
A small voice breaks through
the anti-silence.
We turn to watch as a large
woman in a green headscarf
edges her way towards the door.

So many faces,
but all the same face.
The same expression.
No smiles on this bus. It is
probably a reflection of my own face.
I look at them and wonder
if they think what I am thinking?

Or are their thoughts
on other things.
Perhaps they think of
their bills, their work, their deadlines.
Their lovers past and present.
The future. Their holiday, their
visit to the gym.
A man speaks on the phone
nearby. I don't know
what he is talking about,
and I can't remember any of the words.
Perhaps I'm not listening.

Atherton Leisure Centre.
Press the bell. It's my
stop. Edge meaningfully towards
the door, just like the headscarf lady.
Only I don't say anything.
Perhaps I should say thank you.
I don't.