In the subway, I'm a wide-eyed tourist who can't look where he's going,
the train's light too dull to pierce a rat-thronged dark.
Instead, I let my eyes gaze his thighs, my guide in aviator sunglasses,
who glances around us to see how we're seen.
When a seat opens, he doesn't move next to me.
I fight the urge to interpret. Down here, meaning suspends
its little deaths. In a Chinatown adult store, he held up a pair
of novelty shorts, crotch removed, slingshotting the blue lycra
at my face, laughing, then training his eyes on the saleswoman 's cleavage
blooming from below her tank. He buys the boxers, her name,
in front of me, then asks, Do you want to go home?
As if I lived
among the plants he tends, as if I know into which bureau drawer
the underwear might be folded-away. Wherever home is,
which he thinks means I am lost again. I am in love. I am lost again.
The train fills with women eating greasy take-out
right out of the containers, hipster boys with wires in their ears,
everyone too quiet, trying to decipher the approaching station.
Why do New Yorkers say
the approaching station, when we're
the ones in flux,
I ask, and he only smirks at me. Later that night,
he'll enter and ride the swaying train of my body. I will
be dutiful. I will not demand a life above ground.
We are light fading into dark, the buried city's unconscious,
indecipherable writing looped along a tunnel wall, light
glinting between the steel poles I refuse to see as bars.
It doesn't sadden me, now I see how the story ends.