Lower Level, Grand Central Terminal

It seems wrong.

He follows me into the men's room

and unzips next to me.

There is no one else here.

I glare at the blue capillaries

in the porcelain that

stands like an open coffin

before my boy's eyes.

Grand Central Terminal

is a sullied patrician,

rank and seedy.

The Yankees

fly in airplanes now.


I gargle "no" to a question

I never really hear

and run,

fear

transporting me up the ramp,

past the bookstall

that sells The Evergreen Review,

to the street.

I suck in

the air of survival.

I tell no one.

I should not have been there.

It's on me.

II.

9/11 is raw.

Automatic weapons jut above backpacks;

fatigues weave through suits

to the waltz of Return to Normalcy.

I don't think I've ever noticed

the police desk outside the restrooms.

The food court is waking up.

Curry and pastry

tantalize my stomach.

Clinks and sizzling and spatulas

ring in my sleepless ears.

I am conflicted.

My sphincter pulses.

I'm scared.

Should I file a report?

Should I leave a picture?

Is Carrick really missing

if she's where she thinks

she wants to be?

What if they find a body

and don't know to whom

it belongs?

III.

Down to ten milligrams of methadone,

as she starts to withdraw,

Carrick sweats on the downtown platform

as we wait for the 5:58.

We will meet Deirdre in front

of the New York Public Library.

Four years have passed.

We are intact.

Carrick hands me her iPod

to listen to "All of Me"

performed by a throwback band

she has befriended in Central Park.

She is sharing her music again.

A strap on her bodice rips

as she scratches her back,

and she gives me that goofy look

that's so endearing.

We buy thread at Rite Aid

and a needle to sew.

We unconsciously set up shop

ten yards from the police desk,

which is just outside the rest rooms.

I am not aware of soldiers.
 

I jab at the strap

and pull the thread through

the fabric

in jagged loops.

It occurs to me

that this space is sacred.

It contains multitudes.

IV.

We hear Harold Bloom

propound on Walt Whitman's

autoerotic tendencies.

Then two stentorian voices,

devoid of New York,

make Leaves of Grass sound

like drawing-room poetry.

We laugh and chide

on the bus ride to Deirdre's car.

I reflect on Whitman and

am reminded of our epitaphs,

or mine, at least:

If you want us again, look for us under your boot-soles,

and that's just fine and dandy.


No one wants me to propound.

Deirdre stifles her cough, her remonstrance.

Carrick wants an East Side penthouse

and a mansion on North Broadway in Yonkers

where she will let graffiti artists tag her stone walls

with flowers.

We have circumvented 

the tracks of

the Lower Level 

on our way uptown.

 

9/12/05

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