Friday, November 22, 2013

Hilda Morley: "New York Subway"

The beauty of people in the subway
that evening, Saturday, holding the door for whoever
was slower or
left behind
                   (even with
                   all that Saturday-night
& the high-school boys from Queens, boasting,
joking together
proudly in their expectations
& power,       young frolicsome
          & the three office-girls
each strangely beautiful,             the Indian
with dark skin & the girl with her haircut
very short and fringed, like Joan
at the stake,             the corners
of her mouth laughing
                                 & the black girl delicate
as a doe, dark-brown in pale-brown clothes
& the tall woman in a long caftan, the other day,
serene & serious        & the Puerto Rican
holding the door for more than 3 minutes for
the feeble, crippled, hunched little man who
could not raise his head,
                                      whose hand I held, to
help him into the subway-car—
                                                    so we were
joined in helping him               & someone,
seeing us, gives up his seat,
from us what we had learned from each other.

 "New York Subway" by Hilda Morley, from To Hold My Hand: Selected Poems 1955-1983. © The Sheep Meadow Press, 1983.

Photography credit: "Old Man on Subway," acrylic on canvas, by Leonardo Ruggieri.


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