WHEN THE BUS BREAKS DOWN
GRANDPA ASKS THE KIDS TO NAME THE TREES
Grandpa's thinking about the rest stop
before the bus breaks down near the summit
on White Pass. One of the kids says,
We hit a deer, but it's the engine.
Teachers break out breakfast bags
and put students in charge
of checking for litter on the floor.
Grandpa's not the only one
who needs the toilet now.
One boy says it's all part of the adventure.
Another wears the t-shirt,
It Ain't Over Till It's Over.
The girl across the aisle
asks who want her milk.
Grandpa's reading The Old Tea Seller.
This isn't Kyoto Gardens.
The subject of trees comes up.
Grandpa asks the kids to name
the trees outside the window.
Cypress, fir, pine. The girl asks,
Why do people cut down trees?
5th graders know science and Fox News.
Grandpa says, We are living in the anthropocene.
The exotic word gets their attention.
You tell me, he says, about climate change,
showing them the photograph
of the wine corks beside two great jars
in the museum. Yes in this jar,
No in this jar. Where do you put your cork?
Grandpa won't say. A boy asks him
how old that book is. Grandpa
shows him the ink drawing
of the old tea seller Baisao with
hauling his tea pole and bamboo
on his shoulder, emptying
one tea pot after another.
11 June 2018