Life on the Commuter Train

There is nothing like coming into the city on the train. It’s all here, inside and out, the buildings thick with cranes, the roads with trucks and plastic, the river wide and dark.

We have forgotten what we never had. We have looked back blind. We have let loose with a broken yarn. We are here, magnanimous and incompetent. Yes, yes, yes. Wait. That is the answer, that sound. It will come again. When we are gone.

The boy across from me eats salted cauliflower sticks, one by one, wiping his fingers on his drooping mask, intent on the next page of The Magician. He pokes his fingers inside again, licking off the last grains, crumples the bag, and holds the book up high, a better filter against the pandemic that anyone knew. The couple beside hold hands, the young man clinging, desperately asking her what she thinks through his tight mask. The girls at the front of the train explode hilariously, talking over one another in a spew, “I felt it touch my lips. That was it. I love weed. I was going to put it into the Pringles. I don’t remember a black bag. I will Venmo you right now. You look so good.”

I think of her, still think that we could make it work. I know it is not real, that she would wander away or lie or deny what she did and said, but still it is the idea of her, the magic of that streaming in, with her in a remarkable circumstance, sucking on her great left breast, marvelous in mass, supple and goose-pimpled, believing in everything, stuck in that, even when she laughs and her friend tells her to turn to the camera for the Tik Tok video.

And then it becomes something else, more wide, more clear, held, the way you might hold a piece of nothing like it was god or truth or love and really believe that. And so yeah, seven dollars for two shots and a mega-can of beer. Fuck me. That’s what it’s all about.

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