April 26, 2022

Riding the Fear Bus

In her poem “Hello, Fear,” Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer imagines what might be one of storytelling’s most unique metaphors for this unpleasant emotion: being hit by a bus. More than a clever analogy of fear as a literal vehicle, the poem uses the sensation of fear to illustrate our dynamic relationship with it. “Hello, Fear” is a vivid poem that resonates our experiences with fear while also asking how we might learn from it.

Enjoy! I’ve added some questions for reflection at the end.  

Hello, Fear
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

How does she do it? She hitches a ride on the blow, a stowaway on that which brings her down.
                       —Teddy Macker, “The Mosquito and the Raindrop”

There I was, making tea in my kitchen,

when fear hit me like a school bus.

I didn’t need a scientist or therapist

to tell me it hurt.

I screamed: Arghh! I shouted: No!

But after smashing into me,  

fear just opened the folding glass door

of the bus, yanked me on,

then plopped me into a green vinyl seat.

I’m scared, I said.

Yeah, fear said. ’Cause I’m scary.

Yeah, I squealed, as the bus careened

through the couch, through

my bedroom, through the splintering

dining room table.

What if I lose everything? I said to fear.

Yeah, said fear, what if you do?

And who will I be when everything changes?

Yeah, said fear, who will you be?

Then he opened the door

and shoved me off the bus

and I was standing again beside

the familiar green counter,

tea cup in hand, not a drop spilled.

Who will you be? he shouted

from the half open window.

I took a deep breath,

not knowing how to answer.

Good, fear said, as if uncertainty were a gift.

And who, fear said, as the bus peeled away,

who are you now? Who are you, really?

Questions for Reflection:

  • We feel fear when that which we’re trying to protect feels threatened. What are you trying to protect in your life right now? Perhaps it’s an inner story about your appearance or health; a belief that it’s dangerous to speak up about what you want (and don’t); or a sense of wanting to have something a particular way – a career, a relationship, the amount of money in your bank account, etc. Maybe it is the fear of dying.

  • What would happen if you leaned into your fear, got curious about it, worked with it? Would it be uncomfortable? Would it build self-confidence? What parts of your life would it impact? How might it set you free?

  • The poem mentions uncertainty as a gift. How is being open to uncertainty a form of fearlessness? How is being fearless a gift to others? Is it being present with someone in a fearful situation such as awaiting test results or undergoing treatment? Having a difficult conversation with a loved one or coworker? What about openly sharing our struggles and failures with others?  

For more poetry by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, visit her website.