East meets west…


New York Subway

by Hilda Morley

The beauty of people in the subway

that evening, Saturday, holding the door for whoever

was slower or

left behind
(even with

all that Saturday-night

& the high-school boys from Queens, boasting,

joking together

proudly in their expectations

& power, young frolicsome


& the three office-girls

each strangely beautiful, the Indian

with dark skin & the girl with her haircut

very short and fringed, like Joan

at the stake, the corners

of her mouth laughing

& the black girl delicate

as a doe, dark-brown in pale-brown clothes

& the tall woman in a long caftan, the other day,

serene & serious & the Puerto Rican

holding the door for more than 3 minutes for

the feeble, crippled, hunched little man who

could not raise his head,

whose hand I held, to

help him into the subway-car—

so we were

joined in helping him & someone,

seeing us, gives up his seat,

from us what we had learned from each other.

Hilda Morley, “New York Subway” from To Hold My Hand: Selected Poems 1955-1983. © 1983 Hilda Morley published by The Sheep Meadow Press.

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