Something shifts underfoot
as the train jolts and slides in a long
screech of wheels braking
You and I sit, presents on our laps,
and stare at our watches, adding up
how late we will be.
A man across the aisle slams his paper down and sighs.
Then the lights flicker out
and the train hisses, a final breath escaping.
We are still, stopped blank as a clock, in the middle
of somewhere too dark to see.
Outside, flashlights zigzag,
throwing off light
like lines being cast haphazardly into the black pools of night.
In the glancing chaos
we can make out hunched bodies, heaving
closed in on itself, a folding
of limb upon limb in a kind of prayer.
It sags in their arms as if it has been dragged from the sea,
bones surprised by the stealth velocity of steel.
We do not speak of it
in the awakened fluorescence that makes us plain
as the train moves slowly on
but our bodies know what they have felt—
the unexpected seizure, sudden and subtle,
rising to meet our pulse,
the imperceptible letting go
that will not let us go.