“Bus just stopped at Rosebrocks!”
It was the window watcher’s call
early on school mornings,
when four children were rushing about,
gobbling down Corn Flakes, packing lunches,
stuffing books in bags,
shrugging on sweaters or coats, and
running combs or brushes through bed hair.
First one done with all or most of these tasks
took up station at the west sewing room window.
The Rosebrocks, closest neighbor to the west,
lived half a mile up Buckskin Road,
and when the bus stopped there
and lit up the red flashing lights
we knew we had two to three minutes at most
to be in place on the south side of Buckskin
across from the mailbox, ready for pick up.
It was bad form to be rushing out of the house
as the bus was pulling up, and heaven forbid,
if no one was ready and the bus driver
laid on the loud, impatient, petulant horn—
that precipitated a melee of shouting, grabbing, running
and jeers or laughter from kids already on the bus.
But our driveway was short.
The real sport happened at the Crites’ farm,
last stop on Farmer-Mark Road before school,
with its quarter-mile-long driveway
and three brothers who seemed to relish
the bus driver’s blaring horn,
and the mad sprint down the driveway,
with kids on the bus cheering on the runners
and congratulating the winner as he mounted the steps
sucking in large gasps of air.
I decided then I was thankful
for fair warning of the bus’s approach
and a short driveway.