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Drafts, Poetry

When the Lights Go Down

I love when the lights go down on the subway.

In the dim of emergency-exit glow
and the color of the walls, outside the windows,
slowly coming to become the color
of our faces. Because the darkness
of an unlit subway car pronounces our faces
as we actually see them.

The woman across from me is distant, her dark hair
unseen against the darkness. And we are all darkness
when we ride, packed together, to and from our
many destinations where we do not speak
and do not touch except for the smallest
of passing gestures when we bang and knock
against each others’ legs and arms and bags
full of papers and screens the rest of us will never see.

Because in the dark there is no “before” nor “after”,
no vision and no sense of crowded figures aside
from the knowledge that they’re there.

And when the lights come on, again, those thirty-odd
seconds become both forever and never-again.

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