“Ya’ll are like damn cockroaches!” a young man calls,
his lone earring shimmering behind the crowd.
Under the station’s fluorescent lights, no one
answers; but his girlfriend’s laughter
echoes against the white tiled walls.
What else do you expect? I say in my silent rush
across the platform.
After twenty stagnant minutes, the silver shriek
on a Saturday night is music to our ears.
Through the dusty windows, we spy
empty corner seats—a miracle.
The lucky one—a woman, white as calla lilly,
who has first pick of any seat --
stops, stares and abruptly turns away, repelled
by something I cannot see.
Before me, another woman
with a red-knitted scarf quickly
does the same.
I worry someone drank too much tonight
and vomited there,
but when I see what they see,
I see only a man—a man
whose light green shirt bears black marks,
whose ground-coffee eyes are lost
behind a large, unkempt gray beard.
I smile at him, but his gaze is vacant
or miffed, I cannot tell. Perhaps,
he thinks I pity him.
His lanky legs dangle before mine,
our toes almost touching for two stops
before he rises and starts
towards the opening metal doors.
I watch him as he suddenly spins
and sways like a branch in the wind,
bending to pluck a penny from the blue
seat behind him. Then, he bounds
off the train, his fist clenched beside him.