February 3, 2011

V Shapes

I'm tuned into, turned into, two V shapes. From the center, they extend out, ground me, and let me soar.

I've learned the best stance for metro rides home with poles out of arms reach and brief-cased men towering high above: two feet, hips length apart, planted firmly. Bend knees when appropriate. Think of skiing, then ice skating, but try not to laugh out loud, don't wake the sleeping riders. I sport a newsboy cap and tuck my eyes under the brim, hiding bright wonder and sparked curiosity that illuminates the word TOURIST on my forehead. But I'm not. Pull the cap down lower. Learn the timing of the metro's lurches and inconsistencies of the rail. Prepare for the unexpected jolt, the sudden stop. Keep the feet apart, steady, firm, solid. Concentrate on the space where boots meet the floor until the chimes of the open doors melt into notes.

The second V begins in my coat pocket, parts near my heart, and pours itself into my ears. Headphones worn and tired but faithfully devoted. Time wanders. Through years and loves and hopes and tears. My life maze is comforting, because I'm the only one who knows the way. My own secret garden, a labyrinth marked by notes and melodies, saxophones and guitar strings, those raspy and sweet voices. Places I can pause to rest or walls I can scale and admire the view - exhilarated but peaceful. I can reach out and touch distant faces, fall backwards and they catch me, swoop me up and carry me. Pick a flower and place it behind my ear.

The metro stops slowly when you ride it to the end - until it comes to a crashing halt. The scattered passengers collect at the doors, but I take my time before folding up my Vs. Pull my feet up from the floor and tuck away my headphones. Close my hand around my cell phone and step out. Pull my feet from the ground, my head from the clouds, and my brim just a little lower. Duck into the cold night air.

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