Back Of The Bus

— Bonnie George

1959—Georgia: Surprised eyes wide on dark faces…and mine,
My groom grabs my arm, guiding me back to the front of the bus,
Saying: “We can’t sit back here!”
A new navy wife on our honeymoon in the Deep South—
Anxious to please, breathing hard—I do as I’m told
Keeping my mouth shut when hearing talk like:
“Now…they know their place and they’re happy there”
Happy where? Am I in a movie—in another century?

1999—Louisiana: New Orleans guide book touts this as the
Best way to see stately old homes
So I catch a bus on St. Charles Street
And take a front seat
Exchanging smiles with people across the aisle.
Slowly recalling nasty old feelings of forty years ago…
Sorry and sad about plights and lack of racial rights
I grin at faces now in their rightful places

Time off from working our conference booth today turns
Leisurely sight-seeing into pseudo-rectitude of
An unforgettable situation.
Yes…in the Deepest of South again
I move to the back of the bus
Sit where I would have sat forty years ago
Breathing easier now, while seeing
Old homes on this warm summer day

~

Bittersweet pages
Of history slowly fade
Without prejudice

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