Posted tagged ‘So Much Depends UPon’

Train Stopping

February 13, 2016


Train Stopping

So much depends upon
your smile
towards the woman standing just across
the mid-door stretch
with teeth like a board fence that have seen
a snow drift
who asks how many stops
to Ossining.

Your inner slog slows
to a sharp blur of bars
and barbs, bricked-up blocks along the tracks
that mark the prison SingSing, her long hair thick
as a knit cap about her head, her bangs a fringe thick
as crochet, and you, conjuring an image of inmates with visitors
on their laps under shared
tube lights, say, softly, I don’t think this train stops
at Ossining, what you need is to change
at Croton-– and she, with a voice husked (you’re guessing)
by smoke, nods, oh yeah, oh yeah, I mean, how many stops
to Croton, and you try for a count but also not to make
the smile too shiny, not wanting to be fake, as if you could modulate
chapped lips into some
sort of balm, though the woman is shiny enough,
a bangled sequinsed bag
beside her little black purse.

Every once in a while as the train tugs on,
the two of you smile sheepishly,
you still standing at the mid-door
because to stand in a train feels like a little bit of freedom
in a life of desk-sit,
and she, in a seat by the aisle, both of you sharing something about being women, the river
gleaming, until,

Croton next, she bundles to the opposite door
the dangling hood
of her stiff wool coat spangled by the fall of that freshly-
washed hair, and something softish sounds.
You, wanting her not
to be the one to bend down,
lean over for it.

You dropped, you say,
a penny, reaching fingers purposefully heedless
of the smeared linoleum, and she says, from the opening door,
wait, is it heads?
and you, peering urgently into the worn
copper, say, no, tails.

She laughs, husk wide,
leave it, and, as you stand again, she turns you a face bright
as the door’s blue draft, you’ve been the one happy person I’ve seen on this train all day, she says, and you who haven’t actually been happy
at all,
suddenly are.

Well, thank you right back, you say, not knowing how else
to express that.

Very much of a draft poem, sorry for length, for Fireblossom’s (Shay’s) Prompt on With Real Toads, to write a poem beginning with William Carlos’ Williams famous first line about the red wheelbarrow.  Photo mine, taken from Metro North Hudson Line.  (This poem has been edited a little since first posting.)