April 27, 2015 Chicago, IL
In the corner seat
A young hispanic man talks loudly on his cell phone
Mientras esperamos para salir en tren.
Opposite him are four middle-aged women with Southern accents
Being tutored on CTA routes
And Chicago’s special points of interest by an African American employee.
He puffs out his chest,
Satisfied by the knowledge he has to share.
He knows food, too.
“We do deep dish, but we can make it like New York, if you’d like.”
He speaks on behalf of his city.
“We love New York,” he adds. “This train was built in New York.”
A bell sounds and he departs,
As a robot-sounding white man announces the closing doors.
The Orange line begins pumping life into the city from the airport.
I just landed 15 minutes ago
And have already been swept up into the city’s flow.
An Indian father plays peek-a-boo with his giggling son,
As we spark and rattle our way into the Loop.
A couple across from me has been quiet,
But then reveal a language I can see, but not speak.
They sign jokes to each other quickly,
So they can resume holding hands,
Communicating language in a deeper form.
White and black and brown skin.
Red and blonde and brown hair.
All ages, sizes, and backgrounds are bound to the same tracks here.
To think that all is calm and collected now,
But, as was witnessed in Baltimore today, anything could break loose,
If we dwell upon our glaring separateness instead of our connecting commonalities.
Like how we’re all screwed over if the humanity train goes off its tracks.
And how you can’t ever get a life back
After you take it in a blind rage.
We belong here not because we’ve earned our spot,
But because whether we do it gracefully or not
Our diversity is this city’s identity.
And we can embrace that.
Or we can brace ourselves against the filth that our anger creates.
We screech to a stop.
And I go walking into the streets at night,
Trusting that, even though we’re all completely different,
It’ll still be humans that I pass by.