“Bed of Grass” by Anita Ngai

“Bed of Grass” by Anita Ngai

Bed of Grass

The 38 stops just long enough for me to see him.

On the patch of grass
     serving as median
         next to the bus stop
              at Geary and Park Presidio,

a man
       sleeping
              curled up
                   on his side.

From the clothes, it is hard to tell why the gods have
left him there. The reason is always similarly different.

Layers covers him.
A quilted, navy blue 
       grayish
jacket,
a frayed flannel, burgundy
       grayish
throw,
a (too) tight wool, black
       grayish
beanie.

He is the most peaceful object on the whole 5.8 miles
of Geary, or at least the most stationary. The winds 
blowing at the lush trees, loose pieces of food wrappers
and slurpee cups not in their homes have no effect on him.

I know it must be like sleeping on a waterbed because, you see,
my converse shoes 
     sank just so slightly
            each step of the way
                  into the damp, damp
                          soil when I ran into the hospital
this morning by cutting across the lawn, after the long expected
call to tell me that Uncle too is asleep but not waking up.


Look at that man, is this a bad neighborhood, whispers
someone (perhaps a tourist) on the bus to her companion.

We all scan with our discerning eyes for
        empty beer bottles, 
              used syringes, 
                     or even traces of spoiled food,
but nothing,
       except the patchy patch of grass.

Or is he sick?

                             Rest well, mister, lay still until
                      the strength is there to face the gust
               and storms of the world and
to continue the onward journey.

Anita Ngai was born in Hong Kong, and grew up in Canada and the US. Her writing has appeared in Imprint, Lit Crawl, Talking River and various architecture magazines. While not writing, she works as a business executive in a San Francisco-based technology company.

Category : Issue Six October 2017 Tags :

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