Incident at 77th Street
While this poem describes a real event, the thoughts and intents of the heart relayed cannot possibly be that of the unfortunate woman described with great poetic license here, and are of the human condition alone–or perhaps only the writer’s own.
In that moment, before the
train hit–with her mute face
pressed to the tunnel wall;
was she knowing then the fraudulence
of that blind and foolish leap
from the subway platform to the darkness below,
that ridiculous faith in her strength? Did she find
in the end, there was really no warm hand to hold
in its digital skin, in that piece of plastic retrieved
from those unforgiving tracks?
It bore only deceiving marks on a screen,
some reminders of important things?
Shamed, did she send back to that pandemonium
in the station, one last bleak look: Oh, save me?
In the relentless stare of a headlight,
in the horn’s three moans of warning,
in the horror of that engine’s thunder,
with the blast of air beginning,
was there now a recognition
that she had always longed for a lie,
had always reached for the wrong thing?
Now at her journey’s end,
did she call for someone to just leap down
and help her bear the weight of oppressive sound
with some warmth of common grace?
Now, was there just this chaos of shared terror?
Now no one to cover over her,
Now–was there really no Savior?
Or, in that last moment, before the impact,
did she turn, like another repentant thief
into His presence, in her aloneness?
So that our dread became a mere shadow
that pressed a kind of darkness upon her
and passed over her in silence, leaving
her breathless–but at last, truly alive?