I sat at the 72nd Street subway station and cried.  A wrinkled black woman with too many shopping bags stopped to hand me a tissue.  I took it and tried to smile.  I wondered, if you had been there, and seen me as nothing more than a stranger, would you have gotten involved?  Would you have mentioned The Spanish Inquisition or taken a chance by wiping a tear from my cheek with your finger?  Would you have offered me you?

I imagined you were there with me, passing over my head, a kiss and a breath in my hair.  I imagined your walk, with your fisted hands deep in your brown leather pockets, slipping out from the local train, looking at the platform, for me.  I imagine you here now, with me in the subway car, how you would touch me and hold me as if I were a pole in the center of the train, there to keep you steady.  You didn’t worry about losing your footing when you were with me.  “You can always spot a wealthy person on a train.  They don’t know how to stand,” I was once told.  “They aren’t used to the stops and the turbulence…to abrupt.”  I was wealthy because I had you to hold.

I waited on the information line at Penn Station, asking for the track number for the train to Huntington.  I’d missed the Great Neck train by two minutes, so now, instead, I’m on the same line you were, out to Syosset.  “Wait for the track number.  It will be posted on the board.”  The guy behind the glass told me through the microphone speaker, just as he had the last time, when I insisted there was a shortcut to the answer. 

I always grieve on trains.

The next time I see anyone cry, I will sit beside them, and I will reach out to wipe their tear with my bare hand.  I will get involved.



  1. I always thought of the sound of a train as if it were grieving, and not pretty grief either–the sort that is torn from you involuntarily. Where I live, in the south, my property slopes to a river, and some ways from this is a railroad crossing, where the cries cut the night. You've made me think of the people who might be on that train.

  2. perhaps the train is a metaphor for being in a state of flux, things being temporary…only you would know. or maybe you cry because you are sitting with your back facing the front of the car. that makes me dizzy.

    welcome home, stranger.

  3. "I'm on the same line you were, out to Syosset."

    Unlike air, water, or roads, there is a connectivity to train tracks that is compelling. Trains can only go where the tracks are.

    Railtops gleam brighter the more they're used, as if holding the promise of shinier destinations down the line. Makes you feel like all you have to do is start walking and follow them…

    But, like life, a minor shift from track to track can lead you to places far from your intended destination, or stuck on a siding. All aboard!

  4. hey- if i was there id have offered you a tissue and a hug too. *hugs*

  5. Speaking of trains, did everyone just see Summerly come rolling down the track and win the Kentucky Oaks with Jerry Bailey in the irons?

  6. "The next time I see anyone cry, I will sit beside them, and I will reach out to wipe their tear with my bare hand. I will get involved."

    Bollocks. You'd just check out their butt, make sure they weren't skinnier than you, then rush off to look at more pictures of yourself.

  7. A lttle ironically I was suppossed to be on a Metro North tonight crying a little after leaving a man I hearted.

    Too bad he cut me off at the pass last week. But not too bad I ended up having a MUCH better night tonight with my girlfriends.

    Funny how karma has a way of working itself out. . .

  8. I was on a train recently in the land of the rising sun and I thought of you.

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