Thursday, February 24, 2005

I Think This is an Ode to the MTA

You know what's cool? Standing in the subway station, waiting for your train, and looking across the train tracks to see falling snow sift through the sidewalk grate onto the tracks below.

Fresh snow always seems so pure somehow. It always cleans things up a little, gets rid of the noise and the dirt so that you can breathe-- so that you can be the you that is underneath the running around and being crazy of New York.

Even just that one little fall of snow underneath the streets... it kinda snaps you out of the hustle. The subways are noisy and dirty and crowded, even dangerous, but they are also beautiful. Am I the only one that sees it? The shadows and scaffoldings. The way nature takes over in these tiny pieces-- like water dripping down the tiles to turn it all shades of rust and green.

You know I think I have had some of my most transcendental New York moments on the subway-- music echoing down the tunnel, so many times, so many different kinds, so many different moments. Or the way everyone on the subways kind of let down their guards, just for a moment, in the days after the World Trade Center. You saw the real, naked New York in their eyes.

And all that is not even taking into account the freedom that the subway provides. Anywhere, everywhere in New York, you can go, for two bucks. You don't realize how amazing it is until it breaks down. Then you miss it, the freedom, the ease.

Don't think I'm forgetting the melting pot that is the subways. I'm not, but everyone always writes about it.

I do however wish that people would remember that there is an etiquette to riding the subways. Don't stand in the middle of the doorways-- let people off before you get on, move in, so others can get on. And for god's sake, apologize if you bump into or step on someone. Very simple, but it makes everything go smoother.

But not to end on a sour note, when I was a teacher of English and writing and poetry, I had this little subway exercise I used to practice. I had a really short ride, so not really time for quality reading or writing in my journal, but I would give myself the task of writing a poem between one station and the next. One minute, two minutes, even three minutes, tops. Maybe they weren't great poems, but just like everything in life, the more you practice, the more you work at a thing, the better you get. So my mini poems were like warm ups. Creative power brain food.

I wrote one. I need it. Feed me. Feed me.

First Ave to Bedford

Falling snow. Winter's last breath.
I am hungry
for new.
I'll let go the stillness of
icy purple skies, and down comforters, hot cocoa,
closing my eyes not to see.
I'll Give it up for the thunder of Spring.
Storm and ozone. Birth.

What has taken root
in this long season of

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