I've come to dread the question, even seeing him
sweating in his bodysuit of anxiety,
fingering anyone willing to meet his eye.
Each morning he snags me in the subway station
and begs me to tell him when the next train will arrive.
Each time I assure him it will be soon.
Each time he asks what 'soon' means.
I say the train will be here in a few minutes.
He wants to know how many.
I tell him they are dependable, regular—
trains, minutes, people.
But he needs a train right away.
How soon is soon? He's pleading.
I look for signs of when the last train came through,
how many people crowd the platform,
how concerned everyone else looks.
I try to reassure him,
but he's right—
two trains passed by
going in the other direction
and still no sign of our train.
We are, after all, fifteen stories below ground,
in the deepest hole dug for the sake of transportation.
Each morning I see him, I have a moment
when something in me threatens to give just a little;
a triangle of sand shifts in my wall of days.