Uptown 6 Train
A spindly limbed girl skips aboard
at Bleeker. Mother follows, pushing her child
at a space between two business-men
and seats herself, opposite. With a little room
to spare, no one stands on this evening local.
In a hop she reaches the empty seat.
With one hand on the knee of the stranger
she chooses, she levers herself up
by one bony leg, pivots and slides
in the gap like a human puzzle piece.
After studying the passengers,
she fails the struggle to quiet hands,
and then her dangling legs swing wildly.
She grasps the stranger’s arm and climbs to her feet,
turns, leans into his shoulder for support,
and cups her hands to peer at sparks beyond
the window. She hums and humming rocks
and cannot stop her feet from tapping.
The stranger has moved neither body
nor limb nor lifted his head—the way sight
of a wild creature freezes an intruder
to the scene. Paralyzed, not to betray,
perhaps, or not to startle. Though he’s raised
his eyes, once devoted to The Journal,
casting about for anyone who will
acknowledge his broadly beaming face.
Replacing one hand on his shoulder
by the other, steadying herself
against lurch and sway, she turns and gazes
from her new height at everyone again.
The sleepers, the dazed, and the silent readers.
But not at him. As if she expected
him just to be! What a pair! Youth and age.
Touching and touched. Blessing and blessed.
The mother rises at 14th. Her child
clambers down his leg, grasps her hand and is gone
as quickly as she appeared. Even so,
he has not moved. But smiling still,
searches the eyes of others one by one,
as if to say: Look! Oh look at me!
Willa France 12-07