I was that one youth
sprawled in the subway train
one leg cocked up against the pole in the
center of the car
whose body was so unconscious of its display
as to actually draw attention to itself.
I was not the one with the orange lipstick drawn on in broad strokes
and a jaunty perfect linen buttoned vest and the collar peeking out just so,
who throws back her shoulders and says
I do not feel old,
and then turns to me
and furtively asks, can I learn this?
I was not the girl lying on the floor behind the sub way station ticket booth, young and laying with her coiffed head upon her small purse,
with a coat draped over her legs, be-stockinged in aubergine.
I was shocked to see her there. she did not have the gray aura and odor of the homeless.
She did not have a big sack of belongings with her.
I looked closer at her face and I was surprised to realize she was looking back at me.
I was not her, although I could have been.
or the tall sturdy almost plump one in the pink wool empire waisted coat
with the pink scarf tied tightly around her throat twice,
with the knot squarely in the center of her long neck-
her determined boots echoed in the subway tunnel,
and she felt me watching her and stared straight ahead.
I imagined she felt exposed.
I have felt that way.
I may have been the guy who was gracefully perched against the tiled wall
in the 42 st ‘n’ train stop.
He was beautiful and all the way across two sets of train tracks so I could safely gaze upon him and I imagined him to be a dancer or an actor on a stage.
he was sitting there so serenely,
unconscious of the filthy loud station. or of my notice.
or maybe that was a part of his performance.
when the autumn day is a bit cool and hazy,
as the warmth from the earth meets the cooler air,
and the mist causes water droplets to form on my skin-
then I feel the swirling of my ghosts around me and I am
pulled inward to a place which exists only in some inner dimension
and not in any present tense
and I realize
I am still looking for myself,
seeking my history, my bond with these people
who I see only from the outside -though
I rise and fall on their stance and posture ,
and I dance and sway on their words
which I recall in my own conversations
and possibly in another time.
I feel no shame in observing them thus.
by necessity, I am a voyeur.
I was excluded from their table. I did not partake of their horn of plenty.
I was shunned. and
no one looked into my face to see me looking back.
As I watch the people
in their orbits
and measure their response,
and participate in their trajectories,
I realize I am looking for an opening
into my own understanding.
I am looking for a way back in.