White T-shirt

Lewis Ellingham

 

                                        I caught sight of it at a bus stop:
a white T-shirt, though
                                                     it was partly covered by
     the turning form of a lanky youth massed
                with other human forms intent upon
          boarding the bus on which
                                I was riding, tucked in a corner seat on
                the last row of seats on the bus, the right side, sheltered,
        watching the surge as it entered the double rear doors that
                        soon welcomed as a bottleneck the half dozen
     new passengers — tall, he walked back along the aisle until he stood
                                maybe a dozen feet from me, holding a rail
      with one hand (the right), the other arm dangling, his hips relaxed,
every color — hair, eyebrows, lashes, half-day beard shadow,
        heavy cotton pants, a
jacket dangling from the dangling left arm — black except for his
      white T-shirt, unornamented, the folds from his twist
           as he stood, deep drapery folds, the cotton heavier than ordinary
     for such a garment, the trim at waist and short sleeves the same material rolled,
      eye-catching for its clean bright whiteness, hinting at his beauty, and
                        beautiful in its self:                a white T-shirt, an
        object, he
                                would move slightly, the creases deepen
    as the twist deepened
                             slightly —
                                        at Castro, Market and 17th streets
        he got off, many did, many boarded, his eyes, a light brown, met mine through
                the bus window for a moment, the T-shirt at his neck white,
                                an object still


About this poem:
"The poem 'White T-shirt' records a San Francisco bus trip returning homeward from a cancer radiation treatment session at U. C. Hospital (Mt. Zion) mid-December 2012. I'd been writing poems 'about objects' for a month or so. The setting collected and intensified as I sat on the bus, and I wrote the poem immediately upon arriving home."

Lewis Ellingham
 
Copyright 2013 by Lewis Ellingham. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 5, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Further Reading

Poems and Clothing
"What Do Women Want?"
by Kim Addonizio
Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by W. B. Yeats
Black Jackets
by Thom Gunn
Black Nikes
by Harryette Mullen
Borrowed Dress
by Cathy Colman
Coat
by Peg Boyers
Couture
by Mark Doty
Dialect of a Skirt
by Erica Miriam Fabri
Dressmaker
by Éireann Lorsung
Duality
by Tina Chang
Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits
by Liam Rector
My Shoes
by Charles Simic
Ode to a Dressmaker's Dummy
by Donald Justice
Old Coat
by Liam Rector
Red Shoes
by Honor Moore
Shirt
by Robert Pinsky
The Plaid Dress
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Upon Julia's Clothes
by Robert Herrick
Wedding Dress
by Michael Waters