414: Full Capacity

414: Full Capacity

414: Full Capacity

Full Capacity 
by Rose McLarney

It’s called a kneeling bus because it lowers for those who need it.
And we bend our knees to allow others to pass. Here,
we’re humble. The woman holding her briefcase the whole time
so it won’t slip onto my side, the man mouthing every word
he reads but careful not to make a sound, each person
trying to fit some task into the bounds of their small seat
and hour, all diligence, drawn elbows, and dropped eyes.
There is not enough room to unfold the newspaper’s
black headline (Habitat Destruction), but somehow, hope fits.
The others too, headed home, must look out the window
when we pass a building with a balloon tied to the mailbox. 
Imagine that was your welcome. You are wanted in this place.
How often can humans feel less than harmful to where we are?
Balloons just outline the space occupied by the air
we would have expelled anyway, but they fill a room
with the promise of cake, sugar paste connecting one layer
to more of itself. Bus riders stack on board,
scanning for seats. There are open spaces, if only
in our searching eyes.

"Full Capacity," by Rose McLarney, from FORAGE by Rose McLarney, copyright © 2020 Rose McLarney. Used by permission of Penguin Poets.