This poem will be published in Plainsongs in January.
I imagine her face flushed
with windburn on the trek
from the apartment building -
its dull ochre bricks spitting
her out onto the sidewalk -
to the hole where people move
downward through timeless grime
and black puddles, like a whale
sucking fish through its baleen.
Forced into a silver bullet,
under water and cement,
the weight of the world above.
Earbuds, paperback, downcast
eyes poised for solitude,
her body toggling with the erratic tracks.
A canary in a coal mine;
Flying out of the pit, wings
of yellow hair and striped knit
scarves lifting, buoyant in the
whoosh and clash of hot and cold.
The miasma and matter
stinging her eyes and tongue.
The burden of bags pulling
at slender shoulders, her heart
heavier than what she carries.
Platform boots sprinting over
clotted paths - so far from my
peace and quiet - on into her life.
Her smile piercing each new arrival
like a baseball crashing through a window.