Reflections on a Subway



Lauren Cohen
Voices Editor

A young girl sits on the subway.
Windows all around her,
behind each flies something new.
Faces, colors, and headlines.
This chaos flashes about her.
She looks out
her eyes darting, excited to find order.

She sees herself in the glass
And reaches out into the abyss of expressions and colors and words
But the train is moving far too fast–
A nearby pole slashes her arm.
She quickly pulls back
And begins to realize how much she’s hurting…

Years go by since she last made herself vulnerable
to the world beyond.
She runs her finger over her arm
Feeling the shriveled edges.

She spent her years within the subway
Convincing herself that she didn’t need anything
But it’s sticky seats and cold metal yet
Constantly observing the world passing by her,
Jotting notes as to how and when
she could reach out again.

On the day she filled the last page
Of her notebook, she slipped it into her backpack
And looked out the window excitedly again.
She saw herself standing amongst the crowd
So she reached out, once again, hoping
That after years of observation and contemplation
she’d be more successful this time.
But, yet again, she was struck.

The wound stung more sharply
this time, as the awareness of a humiliating pattern emerged.
The girl tried once more to reach out to the reflections
Beyond the windows until she realized
she would never find herself.

Her once eager, shining eyes turned to the floor.
The colors and enchanting images became a bland grey
With the occasional flattened piece
Of blue or green gum.

If a dream dared enter her mind
She immediately ran her index finger
over the ridges of her skin.

Some days, the images of
Laughter and hands and mouths came back
to her and nothing could dampen her hope.
So she looked around the subway for a guide
Someone to teach her how to get out
And move forward.
But after years of staring at the floor
She realized she was the only one on the train.

And so her head immediately dropped back down
Hanging between high shoulders
and loneliness.

Staring at the floor once again.
Though she saw not only the floor
But also her hands, resting on denim covered knees.
And realized that she’d been looking
on the wrong side of the glass all along.