The Hoo Hoo Lady

I’m like the old lady on the #6 bus
(Jeffery 6, before it became Jackson Park 6)
who used to cry, “Hoo hoo!”–
a weird, stagey cry meant to get attention,
and if you asked her what was wrong,

she’d unspool a whole narrative about
a broken vacuum cleaner and her mother,
alive in the story but surely not in fact,
and sometimes she would alternate “Hoo hoo!”

with “Stupid!” which she spat out
in no certain direction while staring
into the aisle or out at the lake,
the latter of which, whether leaden
or innocent blue, never did care.

And one time, when some politician was new,
she asked, “Do you know what he’s going to do?”
And her seatmate, a stranger, said, “No. What?”
But it turned out that this was not rhetorical —
she didn’t know but was sure it wouldn’t be good.

The hoo hoo lady is long gone now,
as dead as any vacuum parts
or her mother, and part of me is glad
that she didn’t live to see any of this,

but I am not dead

yet,

am still alive to see —
I, who sometimes ride the bus
and ask questions,

and cry.

 

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