Why I was late today, and will probably always be late as a black woman

My father begged me to never take the bus
And like 1950 something
All the negroes are sitting at the back of this one
Coincidence, I am sure
But one of us negroes is drunk and loud and vulgar
He boasts about his time in jail
And this negro throws the other N word around like a Jim Crow boomerang
And I feel my skin get hot
All that melanin
Absorbing the sun but
Still reflecting off each other
It’s blinding such that we become indistinguishable to others
And I fear that the beige ears and blue eyes in front of me are thinking we are all drunk and loud and vulgar
My brown eyes catch the brown eyes of the sister next to me as we confide in each other
Our silent shame
We know they hate him
I think they hate us
I start to hate myself
And I too hate him for making me hate myself again
I think

And suddenly
Like he could hear my thoughts
this stranger decides to direct his drunk, loud, vulgar self at me
I politely decline his conversation
Several times
The way all women have rehearsed the structured improvisation of harassment
That always ends in insults and FUs
He says I am a stereotypical black woman
I wonder about stereotypical kettles and pots

And just as his harsh words escalate the world stops
Or just the bus
(I’m still not sure)
As the driver comes back to find out what the problem is
And this drunk and loud and vulgar man who has been annoying everyone 
But only really bothering me
Stands up
Grabs his only weapon:
his clothed black cock
To defend his right to talk to me
Who has declined this conversation

The driver walks away
Back to the front of the bus
And finally his drunk and loud and vulgar brain figures it out:
His place on the food chain
This white woman is pulling the Trump card
She is restoring Law and Order
And as we wait for the police
On the side of the highway
This drunk and loud and vulgar man
Quiets down and sobers up
To apologize and beg this stereotypical black woman for mercy
He asks me to tell them we don’t have a problem
He calls me babe
I make him say my name
He tells me his life will be messed up if he doesn’t get to where he’s going
I know that I will be messed up if he ends up in cuffs
Or in a coffin
Because of this night
This night that reminds me of how much I hate being black and a woman
This curse
I give him my phone to call his family
I remind him to pray
I comfort this man who has cursed me and everyone who looks like me
And when three cop cars show up
I walk through the aisle of blue eyes 
As they burn through my melanin
skin peeling off to reveal a layer of red boned privilege
My summer tan disappears and I codeswitch
Into the type of girl who feels safe around boys in blue
And I try really really hard to make this black life matter before they make the kind of judgement that cannot be undone
And after they put him in the back of one of three cop cars that showed up in response to one drunk, loud, vulgar man
Of color
One of the boys in blue asks me again if I knew this man
I tell them again that I don’t but perhaps at this point I do
I feel like Peter denying the Son of God before his crucifixion 
The cop looks at me in disbelief and says “then why did you get off the bus with him?”
And I want to say because Trayvon, 
because Mike, 
because Eric, 
because Philando, 
because Alton
because…he is drunk and loved and vulnerable and his life matters
And I forgive him
But this character I am playing doesn’t talk like that
So I upwardly inflect “I just wanted you to have all the information”
And I leave the boys in blue to join the blue eyes on the bus
We take off and I pretend that we are headed to the same destination
And maybe we are but somehow I always find myself lost
Delayed at these invisible intersections