The brutal August heat of Nagoya feels like it is tearing
the flesh from my body as the sweat rolls down my face
and evaporates as quickly as the Japanese phrases
I thought I’d put to memory moments ago.
A blue and white city bus rumbles up to the curb.
A stream of orange Kanji and Hiragana race across
the LCD reader on the front of the bus. I wait for the
English then climb aboard. I take a seat by the window
wondering if I’ll be sitting alone today.
Soon the bus is filled with the tired faces of early
rising salary men dressed in dark blue and black
business suits. They chat listlessly or read the newspaper
in the aisle and seats around me. A square-faced man sits
next to me so close I can smell his hairspray and the
lingering cigarette smoke.
Looking out the window I see an old woman standing
on the curb at the number seven stall. She is hunchbacked
and her torso is nearly parallel with the sidewalk. In her
left hand, she holds an unfurled white umbrella above
her head that casts a tiny shadow along her body. For a second,
as the bus pulls away, I catch her eyes; two brown rocks
sweltering in the heat. In her eyes, all I see are questions, something like,
“Can I really live through another summer?”
About the Creator
Steve Howard's self-published collection of short stories Satori in the Slip Stream, Something Gaijin This Way Comes, and others were released in 2018. His poetry collection Diet of a Piss Poor Poet was released in 2019.