The poignancy of Suzy Chan

The poignancy of Suzy Chan

A Poem by Terpsichore

She lives in Birmingham, this single mother
named Suzy Chan, waiting for a bus,
an insignificant life, woven into the concrete 
conurbation, in this post-modernist time, 
and the bus is late, and she is resigned at the stop, 
concentrating on a Stephen King novel,
( the one about the evil clown that lives in the sewers ).

And it's late in the afternoon in Birmingham,
that time of day when infants are waking from naps
and office workers are looking at clocks.
Suzy Chan is nearly twenty-nine,
and her afternoon bus is never on time.

Meanwhile, I am in the sprawl of London,
obscurely contemplating life
through cosmopolitan window panoramas,
thinking about the surfeit of poignancy
washing about out there on the streets,
muddled up in the miasma of countless dioramas
And I get a sudden image of Suzy Chan.
Nothing sensational, just respectful,
mindful of what is there, in Birmingham perhaps,
or maybe even anywhere.

Then this young man comes walking along,
i-pod swinging on a musical umbilical,
passes close to Suzy Chan;
and she notices, whilst reading and looking for the bus,
through the powers of female peripheral vision,
that he gave her a second look,
a serious reality check, nothing trivial.
And whilst turning the page she absently thinks
that not so many years ago,
the young guy would have looked back yet again.
But this is now, and that was then,
when she was a regular
three-look problem for many men.

She has an eight-year-old son called Joshua,
they've arranged to meet at four-thirty
outside the school gates,
he'll be waiting as usual,
the bus is always a little late,
his shoes are always a little dirty,
but he will smile widely 
at the sight of his mother,
and as they walk home through the
sun streaked, late afternoon streets
they will giggle contentedly together,
and decide mutually on something nice for supper.

I feel respect for women such as Suzy Chan,
not tainted by powerful sentiment, rather,
she embraces other peoples views of how to live a life,
of what is right and what is wrong.
And those feelings are important,
and can be experienced by anyone,
perhaps another writer,
in another grand metropolis,
might be imagining her right here and now.

There is a warm breeze blowing up the avenue,
gently riffling Suzy Chan's back pages
as the bus arrives in a fuss of engine noise 
and well-oiled gears;
and on this street in Birmingham,
in this brief urban afternoon,
Suzy folds the corner of the page, 
thinking to herself
long days make even longer years,
wistful, as she gets on the bus,
and disappears.

© 2016 Terpsichore

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Brilliant characterization!
Well done

Posted 6 Years Ago

Stunning character study. As poets, we can create any character just by people watching. The imagery you employ is wonderful. Bittersweet write. Lydi**

Posted 7 Years Ago

My take on this is imagining the life of a woman we regularly see on the bus -- filling in the details of her story based on what we know --- very beautifully crafted. My only suggestion might be to change the font and format to fit the story better -- I would say it has a less flowery feel than the font currently represents.

Posted 7 Years Ago

So many tender expressions for all eternity... your phrasing and imagery place this piece in the category of skillful art.

Skillfully crafted and beautifully conceived and rendered.

"There is a warm breeze blowing up the avenue,
gently riffling Suzy Chan's back pages
as the bus arrives in a fuss of engine noise
and well-oiled gears;
and on this street in Birmingham,
in this brief urban afternoon,
Suzy folds the corner of the page,
thinking to herself
long days make even longer years,
wistful, as she gets on the bus,
and disappears."

Posted 7 Years Ago

It is indeed poignancy that is captured here, but it is done without adornment, without over-statement. It rather suggests comment or thought merely by description of place and life - leaving the reader's mind open to its own thoughts and impressions. Any intended meaning conveyed is slight and very subtle in that sense, but there is plenty to digest in the sparing evocation of existence. The little scenic details are very effective in this musing, and add to the realism; the sense of the charm of ordinariness, of the everyday.
There is irregular, sporadic rhyme and rhythm, but the piece reads like a fluent thought. The choice of title is very good (that drew me to it) - it has a feeling of anonymity, of Everyman, as it were. And I particularly admire the way the poem finishes - that amplifies that sense of mysterious, fleeting anonymity, like a ghost.

Posted 8 Years Ago

Thanks HDE. A perfect capture of Suzy Chan and I what I was trying to convey. T

Posted 8 Years Ago

I must admit, I steal from every writer on this site. Perhaps steal is not the optimum word choice,
but I take (without permission) character development and speech incorporation from every
poem I read. I know this Suzy Chan. In fact, I have seen her many times. Waiting for the bus.
At the market. Too lovely to be carousing the underwear section at Walmart's/ but there she is.

What makes this a poem and not a short story is the fact that poems can be open ended
as opposed to direction oriented. "Disappears" takes on multiple meanings if it is truly a poem.
But whatever, wonderfully done.

thanks for sharing it...dana

Posted 8 Years Ago

This is filmic. I feel a Ken Loach moment coming on. A really excellent putting together of a perfect poem.

Posted 8 Years Ago

An excellent character study. I I feel for this quiet woman who waits for a late bus and greets her son with a smile...

I've read "It" three times. Obviously Jacob and RJA have read it too...

Posted 8 Years Ago

i like the allusion to "It"

perhaps Pennywise the clown has something to do with that bus always being late, and her son having dirty shoes.

but i like her acceptance of life...she knows she was a looker, but smart enough to know age has taken away that third look...but she loves her son, and accepts the life she has...with a bit of a smile.

you are such a joy to read...the excellent stories your poems convey.


Posted 8 Years Ago

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11 Reviews
Added on June 2, 2015
Last Updated on July 28, 2016



London, United Kingdom

Nothing much to tell really. I work in the city, boring, but lucrative enough to enable me to spend most weekends away from the place. I enjoy writing, reading equally as much. Like retro style cloth.. more..


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