English Lessons with a Polish Colleague on the Blessington Bus
Angela T Carr
I love English, she says, it is so precise.
Rain — all day, snagging — we're mud-caked to the knees,
sodden in site clothes, steel-toed boots; helmets
and hi-viz waistcoats squelch in bags at our feet;
You have a word that is 'solitude', yes?
And you have a word that is 'lonely':
this is not the same word!
I laugh, she shakes her head.
In Polish, it is the same word.
It depends on how you use it and then...
She shrugs. Polish is a small language,
like German. But English... So. Many. Words.
Up front, windscreen wipers sketch a lazy slap
and dash, condensation clouds the lower deck.
Tyre squeal: the doors hiss and wheeze to,
used tickets hop and skitter down the bus.
Did you always want to be an architect?
Fresh rain; brake-light blink snakes ahead to Dublin.
I like to draw, she says, and I like to paint,
but the desire of my heart is to dance.
From The Poetry Bus Issue 7, by kind permission of The Poetry Bus
Analysis by Elaine Feeney:
This poem has the best title. There is a sense of drowning in the weather from the get-go. The first stanza almost seems weighed down by itself and this replicates the complexities and limitations of language. The muggy bus, with its onomatopoeic descriptions, is so brilliantly conveyed, (I felt motion sickness reading it, as I hate buses) contrasts with the ferocious energy of the colleague, up for new beginnings as they begin to uncover delights in the English language and its potential. The speaker cannot ultimately control the poem’s desire to dance in this optimism and this creates an interesting tension, great poem. Really enjoyed it.