Judson Mitcham: Before Prayer

(Judson Mitcham)

She curled up next to me on the Trailways,
clutching her cigarettes and change.
The light framed her face, while the bus
idled under a streetlight in Ringgold,
till it groaned on into the night,
headed south down the two lane.

I think of her often, this woman
who appeared in the aisle like a nightmare
somewhere in Tennessee, bits of weed
in wild hair matted on one side.
She lurched through the vacant bus
toward the one seat where, by accident,
she could touch someone.

When the light left her face, it came,
this ache I have felt all my life.
Whatever is within us, it is not enough.

                   –Judson Mitcham