- solsken

The Subway
   Will I ever become one of them?

    She sits and knits without raising her head,
    Can she sense by the length of her knitting
    When her next stop will be?
    Does five inches of knitting equal her stop?

    He sleeps soundly like a horse,
    His head upright, his hands on his lap.
    Clenching a shopping bag.
    Is there an alarm inside his bag?

    She stares straight ahead
    Like a robot in space.
    Do I hear a silent ummmmm
    Meditating her next stop?

   How can they be so relaxed?

    He sits, his back straight and stiff.
    Ah, is this his first ride, too?
    Naah, he's guarding his Amani shopping bag.
    Among the likes of us.

   A man jumps on board, and asks
    “Does this take you to J street?
    What an adventurer, I envy him.
    Three young men sing the gospel
    Passing their hats around.

    I sit there, my lst subway ride.
    Odette, Setsâ caregiver  sits across me
    To accompany me to Brooklyn
    With three transfers. I watch her like a hawk
    but the crowd soon becomes a wall between us both.
    I can't lose sight of her, I panic.
    I must get to Brooklyn.

    Ah, I see her shoes between pairs
    And pairs of legs. My safety net,
    Those tired worn out shoes.
    Relax, observe, learn.

    I pretend I'm a native New Yorker
    Who's quite capable of knitting
    Or snoring before my stop.

    I listen to "next stop"
    But they sound like voices
    At airports, all muffled and dumb.

    I keep my eyes on her shoes.
    When they move, I move.
    When they stand, I stand.
    Shoes are walking.
    She motions me toward the door.
    I elbow my way like a New Yorker.
    We rush like short distance runners
    To the next train.

- Frances H. Kakugawa

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