I stood in a subway train.
A girl seated about 2 meters away stood up.
She walked close to me and said,
“Please, sir, take that seat.”
“Thank you, but I’m getting off soon. Truly thank you so kindly,” I said.
She got back to the seat with a shy smile.
(I hope I didn’t embarrass her by refusing her offer,) I thought to myself.
I looked at my reflection on the windowpane.
(I can’t blame her if she thought I was too old to be standing.)
The annual rings on my face were much more than I could count.
I thought of the days when there were no such rings on the face.
I remembered speeding my car on a Michigan highway.
(It was much faster than this subway train,) I thought.
Maybe I was then that girl’s age. I was driving to go to school.
I had then a strange lump in the chest that I still feel.
The lump was a poem I’ve never been able to put out in words.
The girl’s smile was so stimulating the lump squirmed again.
(I don’t have to be a poet, but the poem has to come out.)
I looked at my face reflected on the windowpane again.
It looks so different from it was then.
But the lump stays as strongly in the same place.
I remember the little hitchhike trip I took from Detroit to New York.
I thought it would give me a stimulation to let out the poem.
Decades later I flew on a plane from Detroit to New York.
I saw myself standing by the highway with my right thumb up to get a lift.
My face was then greasy and I felt some dust on the skin.
Reflected on the windowpane now, it is so dry.
But the lump in the chest stays the same.
(I have to let it out before there is no room left for new annual rings.)
I looked at the girl and she also looked at me by chance.
She gave me a slight smile.
The train then came to a halt at the station where I was to get off.