On the Bus Someday

Of  that string of memories about our lost friendship I remember
being invited places as a pair, like a comedy team; and after
one party, our self-parody of our own stammering
speechlessness when introduced to Henrik, the Swedish god
auto mechanic; our twin, garish, purple-flowered swimsuits
from Kmart, outlining, around Texas, our sameness
and differences; our dual waitressing shifts across town,
and the long phone calls that followed with their emphatic
reiteration of every stingy six-top ordering candy-flavored
alcoholic drinks; the after-work visit where we brayed,
stomped, then blinked stupidly (while the needle hit
the LP’s end) at the empty fifth of gin left on the coffee table,
prompting a dim: Uh oh; your imitation of your mother’s
habitual and by-the-way inexplicable confession about you
to shoe salesmen: She has a  funny foot; the apartments,
the Olivettis, the boyfriends, all the thoughts exchanged
unedited like an experiment of the big, walk-in consciousness,
which we might have assumed the verbal equivalent
of sex for friends, and whatever closeness meant, we wanted
as much as we could have, it was our post-graduate work
in The Humanities. Even now, I can’t resist striking up
a conversation while standing on line, any line, or introducing
myself enthusiastically to whomever I am introduced,
but the truth is I am not looking for new friends at this point;
I am trying to locate the lost ones, the ones who left
through the hole of an argument decades ago,
a time more panicked and carefree than any other, except maybe
the early years of motherhood, which I missed sharing
with you on playground benches. But surely I will see you
on the bus someday, and your greeting will package
our jokes, advice, tears, book talk, our years of reliance.
And so I will expect you will tell me how much I have
misunderstood and wrongly assumed in these descriptions,
because I never expect those people who have mattered
to remain completely gone, even through death, or rebuke.
And of course I have to remember what parted us,
that I found faults with your other friends, that I spoke
as critically and crassly about them as I did about my own person,
and to this day I have to be careful of that trait, my junkyard
dog of expression, safe only with me on a too-long leash. Here,
again, telling you everything with no reason but for
memory’s insistence that I string an apology from what I see.

More Poems by Jessica Greenbaum