Reflections on a Subway


    Lauren Cohen
    Voices Editor

    A young girl sits on the subway.
    Windows all around her,
    behind each flies something new.
    Faces, colors, and headlines.
    This chaos flashes about her.
    She looks out
    her eyes darting, excited to find order.

    She sees herself in the glass
    And reaches out into the abyss of expressions and colors and words
    But the train is moving far too fast–
    A nearby pole slashes her arm.
    She quickly pulls back
    And begins to realize how much she’s hurting…

    Years go by since she last made herself vulnerable
    to the world beyond.
    She runs her finger over her arm
    Feeling the shriveled edges.

    She spent her years within the subway
    Convincing herself that she didn’t need anything
    But it’s sticky seats and cold metal yet
    Constantly observing the world passing by her,
    Jotting notes as to how and when
    she could reach out again.

    On the day she filled the last page
    Of her notebook, she slipped it into her backpack
    And looked out the window excitedly again.
    She saw herself standing amongst the crowd
    So she reached out, once again, hoping
    That after years of observation and contemplation
    she’d be more successful this time.
    But, yet again, she was struck.

    The wound stung more sharply
    this time, as the awareness of a humiliating pattern emerged.
    The girl tried once more to reach out to the reflections
    Beyond the windows until she realized
    she would never find herself.

    Her once eager, shining eyes turned to the floor.
    The colors and enchanting images became a bland grey
    With the occasional flattened piece
    Of blue or green gum.

    If a dream dared enter her mind
    She immediately ran her index finger
    over the ridges of her skin.

    Some days, the images of
    Laughter and hands and mouths came back
    to her and nothing could dampen her hope.
    So she looked around the subway for a guide
    Someone to teach her how to get out
    And move forward.
    But after years of staring at the floor
    She realized she was the only one on the train.

    And so her head immediately dropped back down
    Hanging between high shoulders
    and loneliness.

    Staring at the floor once again.
    Though she saw not only the floor
    But also her hands, resting on denim covered knees.
    And realized that she’d been looking
    on the wrong side of the glass all along.


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