Observations on the Subway


In warm weather we sit stilted in
the small islands of our seats,
separated like gourmet chocolates
in compartmented trays.We cross
our legs, guard our space, and suffer
headaches from the dizzying blend
of deodorants and perfumes.
We avoid eye contact with faces
across the aisle the way rotting tulip
bulbs hide from the sun.
But in winter, padded coats
and thick clothes break down
the invisible barriers the way snow
melts on train tracks. Shoulders press
together.The mere turning
of a newspaper page causes
an elbow jab into a neighbor’s
quilted ribs — but it’s comforting —
this impromptu human contact.
The gates of our hearts unlatch.


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