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It's summer and the Jitney is packed,
every seat taken, except for the one
five rows up, in which a burly man
has barricaded his window seat
with a briefcase and jacket, an act meant
to confront others with his superiority.
Munching chips and guffawing at
a YouTube video of an obese woman
riding a scooter down a country road,
towing a younger obese woman
in a wheelchair, he reminds me
of a neighbor's dog that would steal
and bury our dog's bones, then growl
defiantly on his side of our fence.
He's the reason I'm sitting back here
next to the toilet, thinking about Pythagoras,
who believed our souls ended up inside
the bodies of animals selected as rewards
and punishments. Well, the three giggling girls
stretching their legs into the aisle every time
the shy attendant passes, making him stutter
apologies in a Slavic accent—orangutans, probably.
Sequestered back here between work and family,
thought and dreaming, I'm slowly evolving into,
say, an aardvark, the last living representative
of a nocturnal, burrowing species hurling down
the highway inside a bus whose shell is camouflaged
as a vodka ad, on its way to a barricaded future
on the far side of a fence where all our significance is buried.

Philip Schultz

W. W. Norton

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