a face made of light,
a young teen lost
somewhere on these streets.
billboards pulsing those teeth
as a girl in the back of the bus
cradles her brother,
asks if he has heard
of this thing they call death.
and this thing, we are all considering
it on the bus, considering him, this boy
once a brother, once a son
once a something, somewhere
milk-cartoned down the 110 off the gulf coast.
it seems the older generations know
what to look for, know the feeling
as they peek out the windows at the passing cars,
watch each time his face smiles back at the bus
or each time it seems his expression
has changed, memorize the numbers dog-tagged
under his chin, just in case.
and the boy in the bus, all fetal-positioned
against the window and his sister's lap,
he says yes of course, and for us, the others on the bus,
we stop watching the lights, the numbers
because this boy in the back has figured something out
something we have seemed to misunderstand.