The 16A

The bus is full and thick with fug:
we’re all bundled up for winter. I take a hankie
from my pocket and wipe the misty window.
A young woman standing at a bus stop looks up at me
and I’m back in last summer’s Luxembourg Gardens,

where a young woman standing by a hedge
drops her jeans and underwear,
bends at the waist and grips her knees —
a long rope of urine shoots out of her in a glittering arc
and drums loudly on the lawn behind.
I look away, but later wish I hadn’t.

The bus stops and everyone get out:
old women who can raise storms,
children who can jump and count up to sixty,
men who know the name of the next winning horse
and smell of smoke, mums with covered prams.
I may never see them again, but their breath
is tucked in my pocket, soaking my handkerchief.