On the way to Atlantic
You were coming from work and as you left the train at Atlantic my eyes warmed over like yours had been warmed over, swelling to an innocuous jade and brown beneath the phosphorescence. I was crying your tears and the doors closed and I looked down to let them fall and instead of cold release, you came through me and it was like putting glasses on for the first time. Everything was washed clean, like a windshield wiper or a dish being pulled out of fresh cold water in one of those commercials but no dripping at all, and my face remained dry; it all soaked into me.
You were crying the minute I stepped into the train no doubt, because when I reached my seat across from you, you were wiping your eyes already.
It took me the entire ride to gather the courage to talk to you, and actually it was you who spoke first. Coming over to the map behind me you peered through your big eyes that shined a sad glaze, and you stepped back still unsure. I said, “what are you looking for?” at which you replied, “does this stop at Atlantic?”
After our exchange and my double checking the map, for I had just moved to a neighborhood along this line myself, the train was indeed headed to Atlantic. To make matters better, God chimed in and announced as the conductor, “Stand clear. Next stop Atlantic.” We laughed and I came over next to you. “Are you alright?” “Oh, I’m fine,” you started and I continued, “because I saw you crying before and –” “well, yes…” and then we breathed. I felt berated, for the blink of an eye, about my brazen observance. “It’s been a long day,” you offered and I sort of sigh an exhalation. “I’m sorry” I seem to say, “uhhmmphh” I kind of mumble through a closed mouth “I’m really sorry to hear that.”
“I know what you mean,” I would’ve said, but I simply say “yeah…” and offer you my handkerchief which has been idly in my grasp for a few minutes now, since I had been back over on my side. Since I wanted to help, but could only look over and wonder. I did, while I was over on my side, ask God to “give me her pain.” I’m not sure why but I do that from time to time.
You sort of laugh and entertains my offer with a generous wave and air of aristocracy and I smile too at the thought of having a handkerchief nowadays. You smile through pressed lips and I do too.
Now the same handkerchief is in my hand again beneath my phone as I type this. Anchors and rope, blue and red coil. And in a wide cross-check pattern the rope goes through and through the white handkerchief lined in navy blue and thin lines of red. We’re coming up from 14th street and I wonder about you. I wonder if you have stopped crying? Or if you’re having dinner yet?
I hope you’re doing well. And yet I can’t help but think, “I wish I could’ve done more.”