Subway

by Stephen Cramer

Steel lemmings, they follow one another as they’d grown
accustomed to all those years, the old New York City subway

cars hauled away from the cavernous platforms of Madison & 5th
to speed toward their final stop on the ocean floor. Stacked

onto a barge & conducted out to the depths, the 18 ton cars
are lifted with a front end loader & dumped, their doors

permanently open to take in the transit of brackish
liquid & foam. Ten years later, the corrosion is to be expected.

What’s not: the coral & anemones blooming in chestnut spangles
& tokensized rosettes, the stalactites almost glitzy in their burgundy,

plum & orange, the school of fish feinting one way then another inside
this pseudo coral reef. So much richness among the tedium

of the subway’s metal, & there always has been:
a regular on my commute fifteen years ago, a blind woman

threaded her way through the cars as she has threaded her way
through my dreams ever since, reshaping the lyrics of “Amazing Grace”

to I was blind, oh praise the lord . . . The silent rush
hour crowd parted for her as the lyrics spilled through the track’s

metallic chant & thrum, the cracked leather of her voice binding us strangers
like family before it pooled in the dusty corners. In my dream,

her voice morphs into matter, each note a silverscaled muscle, until the song
is a school of fish flashing & skimming from her mouth,

each silver body spangling the air before our eyes, rubbing the pearly
swish of a tail against our earlobes. The darting sparks of fish

use the subway to keep away from the threat of larger mouths,
the four feet of coiling hunger that slide by those graffitied windows.

Through many dangers, toils, & snares I have already come. Through all the world’s strangeness, we learn to make a home.