Bob and Wheel
I was reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And the girl on the bus noticed. And she commented on it.
Said the Green Knight was a feminist parable. That the metaphorical beheading of womankind and the subsequent return in a year and a day was clearly a reference to menstruation.
Went on to describe the way each of the battles in the poem represented a different dysfunctional romantic relationship.
She spoke in great detail and with sharp command of the text. Each of her major theses was supported by multiple references to specific stanzas. And argument, like each stanza, was laid out so it ended with a bob and wheel. The "bob" was a short line, followed by the "wheel," a longer line infused with internal rhymes.
I don't even remember why I had the book. It must have been assigned reading for some course I was taking. I can't imagine I would have picked up the book on my own.
But I don't remember any of that.
I remember her necklace -- an oblong piece of jade on a silver chain.
I remember her scarf -- purple, with green stripes.
And I remember her description of the appropriate punishments for each of the metaphorical sins committed by the men represented in the dysfunctional romances she felt were represented in the poem.
And I remember how she smiled after she finished her analysis.
And how she gave me her phone number.
After her discussion of beheadings and combat, and sword-fueled menstrual cycles.
I folded the paper with her number in it. And I put it in the paperback. And I read the rest of the poem.
And lost the book.
Exactly one year and a day later, I was back on the same bus.
I remembered the conversation and looked around for the girl.
She wasn't there.
Which, looking back years later, is fine by me.