You hunch over a book in a packed train car,
the city’s lifeblood in business suits
returning from a scrimmage,
defeated by some faceless foe.
You hold a book with no cover
with both hands, fingers
eagerly tickling the pages. I
follow the contours of your face
as the bitter tracks
make the train whimper.
Your hair dances to the harmony
of an invisible conductor, the staccato
of steel creating a tableau of
hazel brown ballerinas, enslaved to
a calling with no voice.
I wonder if your dimples
are frequent visitors dropping by
for nightly tea, or elusive secrets
hidden in deep grottos, anemones
decorating its walls with
fuchsia picture frames.
Does a field of yellow poppy flowers
lay behind your plain lips, or a lava
lake, bubbling with rage? Will
I find a forest of redwood trees
or a desert of crimson sand, behind
your hazel eyes?
The conductor announces the next stop.
You look up to look at the green marquee, and
find my brown eyes instead.
You smile, taught to do so
only once to strangers and look away,
but you rebel, and look back at me again.
Do you see a forgotten friend, have
our eyes interlocked in a previous life, when
we stood in the same freight car on
our way to a quaint town with
cobblestone roads lit by pewter gas lights?
Would we both have gotten off
at the same stop, casually
stroll along until one of us
approaches the other, and
spark the match that every bond
requires, to form a lives-long pact?
Would we meander together and
smell fresh baguettes, marvel at the sparks sprouting
from the blacksmith’s anvil, enjoy
the fragrance of apricots and fresh-picked lavender?
The feeling passes as the conductor bellows my stop.
You shuffle away
from your faceless book and
wait for the door to your stop.
I silence my insecurities and
hold the door for you.
You thank me, holding your gaze
a second longer than anticipated.
A second longer, a gift you don’t realize
I embrace so willingly.
But our casual stroll never
manifested into an approach, as
December wind sobers me to my burdens,
an aging poodle with a poor bladder,
a mother screaming through smiles.
“Thanks for holding the door for me!”
you call out to me
as our paths began to diverge.
Were you begging me to answer
something back other than, “It was my pleasure”?
Maybe I’ll listen to fate
in the next life, and
dare to discover the
secret in your eyes.