Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, March 29, 2010

missed connection

We meet, perhaps for the first time,
on the L-train, above the city. Neon lights
like coral reefs but dirtier, unreal
in that way that artificial
things seem more real than coral.

We're standing. I'm in a suit and tie. My hand
clings to the noose.. The L-train bobs.
The reef teems with citizens and cars;
minnows, speeding turtles. searchlights
flood the glass. Your face reflected there, serene
as manta rays. Headphones, a face absent of gaze.

Where do people meet in this city? Your hand
so close to mine, we could be touching if the train
just jumped enough, a rock on the tracks or a stroke
of lightning – a crazed commuter shoving people around
might knock someone who knocks someone who knocks
you just enough to make the skin of our hands brush.

Messages in a bottles. A woman in a car shouts
*I saw you I saw you I saw you*... driving your blue car,
two eyes locked – woman and man - but there's no way to speak
in cars, then the highway bends the lanes apart. A man
in a grocery store describes your summer dress, the way
you touched your beautiful son's hair,
and he couldn't think of things to say in time because you
were already loved by a man – your younger one. Another
man stumbled in all the rings on your hands,
dozens of beautiful rings, and we don't know
what they mean, but he describes a tattoo, where dolphins
swim in circles around your navel, their bodies
curved like chasing each other's tail. You're looking
for him at the gym, where he hides inside his headphones,
like you do
with me,
on the train.

Was your smile on the train something real, or a memory of fish
spinning off into open water? Caterpillar camouflage, perhaps?
“If I smile I'll escape...” she said, about the sharks
Was it real? Was any moment missed
where two people met on a train?
There's the tower where they filmed that movie.
We curve around it in our train. When you look up at the red light
flashing on the antenna, do you hold my gaze in the reflection?
Did we look into the opposite of each other's eyes?

I'm writing to you now from work. I share an office
with three other men. We have to be
careful when we stand up from our desks.
We might bump into each other.
We work all day long.
We talk, sometimes; we meet after work for a beer.

Sometimes, I think I can smell their cologne, when I'm working.
Sometimes, I think I can smell your perfume.


Anonymous said...

I do the same in traffic
at lights
thinking of that person passing
their life
what they do
who they are
a story of their time in just a second as they pass or as we sit at the red light waiting to get on to our own time our own life
like that tree theory in the forest if no one is around to hear if it falls does it make a sound
does it matter if i connect or not
do i matter

J m mcdermott said...

They made the cars to look like faces
two headlights and braces - a bright-eyed child
a doll face as large as a living room.
They made them this way so I wouldn't
see you. Just your car. And you won't see me.
We're six feet apart in a moment, and we are
hidden in a doll.

Carpool. It's good for the soul.

Anonymous said...

i did
4 women
young to old
from ny to jersey
gas shortage time
so long ago
connection good among us
most days
not friday
we opted out
went back to single cars
hoping to leave early or
go on