When Moving from Point A to Point B,
Do Not Intrude on that Empty Space
of Not Having to be Anywhere At All
But tonight I’m scared to be this much alone.
I know I shouldn’t turn to the man sitting next to me,
the one slumped in his train car seat.
It’s been raining all day. There have been many delays.
My muddy shoes make popping noises
as I step on bags of potato chips
and double espresso cups
scattered on the floor next to our feet.
When the conductor takes the ticket from our pockets, moves on,
I touch the man’s sleeve, press my fingers into his arm.
The lines on his face deepen
as I talk about how New York City will eventually crumble and fall into the sea;
and my crazy uncle who screams until his face bursts
like a balloon being bitten by a dog;
I talk of war and its dead children; about time
and its heavy hand on my neck; and I tell him
the story of how I drove into a parked car
and left. And came back. Then left again.
I say I should quit smoking and will quit smoking
but can’t quit smoking
at least, not today.
And I’d like to know if he knows, I say, if it’s at all possible
for anyone to slip into the holy nothingness of now?
Finally, when I pause to take a breath,
the man pushes the brim of his fedora hat over his eyes.
As the train shush-shushes over the tracks,
I look out the train car window
which frames a full moon and rattles on
like teeth chattering in a skull.
The winter sky is clear now and full of stars.
The Big Dipper points somewhere
I just might have to go.
Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of three collections of poetry: Rules of Hunger (2004), northSight (2006) and High Notes(2010)—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her poems have been featured in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant. www.loisroma-deeley.com