school bus

Cold air on my nose.
The rest of me warm in bed.
Sun glares through blinds.
I close my eyes.
I don't move even an inch.

Smell of bacon and buttered toast.
Mom's footsteps on the stairs.
"Breakfast is ready. You'll
be late for the bus."
That bus
is noisy and dirty and stinky and
kids push and yell.
I lie still.

It's no use.
Mom has laid out my jeans and
sweat shirt and shoes and socks.
She's putting them on me.
She's combing my hair.
I let her braid and fasten elastic bands.
Jerk away when it smarts.
And dodge her little spank toward the kitchen.

After breakfast I brush my teeth,
squint in the mirror and spit.

I let Mom pull
my coat over one arm, then the other,
she slides my backpack onto my shoulders,
presses my lunch box into my hand,
we walk to the street.

Bus idles, fumes.
I brace my feet against the bottom step and
push against Mom's hands but
she pushes harder.

I'm on the steps.
The driver says, "Sit down," so I trudge
to an empty seat.
I tune out the kids' yelling.
I'm thinking
I can always get the nurse to send me home.