Starbucks in hand,
handbag uneasily perched on the other shoulder,
the tardy student roots around to find the green rectangle of the Presto card,
for her funds have been depleted already.
The bus will be here at any moment —
oh God, where is it, oh there —
but her credit card, she roots around again.
The bus rumbles around the corner
she can’t afford to miss the bus again —
she’s been late twice already.
In a seminar of 12 people, her lateness couldn’t not be noticed,
anything to keep that knowing smile off the professor’s face,
yes, that one,
the one prone to various innocuous remarks.
Just in time, she queues to the back of the snaking line of sleepy students,
who inexplicably haven’t been shaken awake by God’s great slaps that is the heaving wind.
Shifting her weight from foot to foot —
it is cold (why didn’t she wear the thick scarf as her mother suggested?
No day to be outside without a hat) —
she clambers aboard and off they all go.
Ah, but this is no straightforward journey, no,
not since the advent of the subway:
down an escalator,
digital turnstile (“you may proceed”),
down another escalator,
So much of her life is spent in these interstitial moments,
waiting for the train,
Late again, then.
She catches her breath —
might as well.
The Starbucks, now lukewarm and not as good,
but was it ever good?
Being honest, the comfort of holding a warm thing was what she wanted more than the sip and savour of a caramel nutmeg vanilla whatever.
Now, board the train —
why must she pay three dollars for this one-stop trip —
up an escalator,
up another escalator —
greeted by God’s great slaps.
Then Pioneer to Stong,
not lengthy but deceptive puddles (ice or water?) prolong her lateness.
Would a smile make it okay,
the “sorry I’m late?”