I'm stuck on an N ready to tunnel
under the river. Train delays on this
of all days. Cell phones flip, office call-ins,
iPod shuffle and newspaper fold. Shift
weight. The conductor stays silent. Back then
I lived in the shadow city, heard first
through phone and radio as sun slatted
the cherry desk, that bell tower office
where prerecorded chimes marked the hour.
And the images day played night replayed.
I went there two weeks later, surveyed what
memory left me, the sights I once knew.
To live here now stuck on an N, to scan
the sky, elevated, tunnel-bound. What
morning will greet me when I depart, rise
from beneath this city's streets? September's
light in all its dazzle? Will it still hint
at the shadows to come? Stand on this isle,
Time's X, on the gum-dimed concrete and grate
V. Stand where the steam ventilates hidden
speakers, where the subterranean hum
drones on long after a struck bell when rung.
Matthew Hittinger is the author of the chapbooks Pear Slip (winner of the 2006 Spire Press Chapbook Award), Narcissus Resists (GOSS183/MiPOesias, 2009) and Platos de Sal (Seven Kitchens Press, 2009). He lives and works in New York City.