Eight hours by bus, and night
was on them. He could see himself now
in the window, see his head there with the country
running through it like a long thought made of steel and wheat.
Darkness outside; darkness in the bus — as if the sea
were dark and the belly of the whale were dark to match it.
He was twenty: of course his eyes returned, repeatedly,
to the knee of the woman two rows up: positioned so
occasional headlights struck it into life.
But more reliable was the book; he was discovering himself
to be among the tribe that reads. Now his, the only
overhead turned on. Now nothing else existed:
only him, and the book, and the light thrown over his shoulders
as luxuriously as a cashmere shawl.
“Shawl” © 2007 Albert Goldbarth. Reprinted from The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Source: The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems
(Graywolf Press, 2007)