Mrs. Parks's Bus

Inside the Lorraine Motel,
a relic from a bygone era
invites me to take a journey
     back in time–
or perhaps it is a replica,
merely an imitation of that now-infamous
     public transit vehicle
on which an ordinary citizen
did an extraordinary thing–
asserting her humanity
and declaring it to be of a value
precisely equal
to that of the lighter-skinned passenger
     who presumed to take her seat.

Sitting on a cushioned bench
     at the back of the bus,
I observe as two vivacious teenage girls
     bound up the steps
     and take stock of their options.

They flop into seats near the front,
activating the recorded voice
     of an increasingly irate driver–
     who demands, in no uncertain terms,
     that they move to the rear–
and it occurs to me,
     as hot tears slither down my cheeks,
that progress comes
     in the most mundane of arenas,
and that sometimes a year’s worth of walking
must precede one small step
     toward the destination
     that matters.