Poets Usually Present Their More Admirable Qualities

When our bus driver talks loudly to a rider in the front about her favorite soap opera, glancing now and then at the road, I don’t say anything, but I mind. When a tight corner dumps my cabbage sandwich into the aisle, I pick it up and if I catch another’s eye I smile. When the back of the bus smells like urine, when the bus breaks down on my way to an important appointment, I know that this does not happen for my praise or condemnation. When a neighbor rider vigorously picks his nose, when I overhear another brag about her mistakes, I am neither inhibited nor emboldened. I share my seat with whomever decides to sit with me, making no attempt to claim the space with my coat or bag. A fellow rider always thanks and complements our worst drivers. I try to take him as my example. Although the circumstances of my commute sometimes tempt me to competitiveness and selfishness and test my acceptance of my fellow man, I always strive for perfect goodness, both sacred and profane.

1 October 1985, Palo Alto