motion, 4

on BART today, we exchanged
small smiles across the
narrow aisle between us

then i kept my eyes down
buried them in poetry,
so i could not see
the possibility of
conversation lingering in the air,
pressed lips together
in half-feigned concentration

for the remainder of the ride,
intentionally or incidentally,
i did not meet her eyes again.

we become so good at
pretending other people
aren’t there when riding public transit

partially for protection
partially from sheer weariness

lately i’ve taken to looking
at all the strangers
around the train, noting those who
don’t have eyes glued to phone
or book or paper

but, often, on those rare moments
when other alert eyes meet mine,
i turn away, keep my face
carefully expressionless,
unsure of how to engage

how strange it is
to travel together
through tunnels of darkness,
along rails of light,
packed so closely
together and be so
staunchly separate.