poem index

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.

Lewis Ellingham