Thursday, December 13, 2012

In the Path of a Train (Poem)

In the Path of a Train

1979. June. Morning.
Renee Katz not yet 18
is underground

about to be pushed
about to lose her left hand
about to lose her ability

to ever again think
of putting two hands to piano keys
of lifting flute to mouth

and making music.

A subway, a hand on
the tracks, the slicing
of the fine motor

skills she will never have
again, and the only suspect
acquitted leaves the attacker

out there

and his movement
with dexterity beyond
50th Street and 8th Avenue

is even harder to imagine

until it happens
the shove to the tracks.

2012. December 3. 49th Street.
Ki-Suck Han this time a man
also a person from Queens

also in the path of a train
that will not be stopped
the instant you see already too late.

In the path of a train
is the cycling
of what you cannot take

your eyes from
even as all that is familiar

— marriage a child's birth divorce
new love a job —

reminds you that not like Han you are
and what you do now is listen

to the music
rising not from hands denied
the touch of black-and-white keys

but from your breath escaping
refusing the silence

not stopping

the riding of a train
going underground
the letting go of anger grief regret hope

even love

from lifting a Hanukkah candle
shimmering for the miracle.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is inspired Clyde Haberman's City Room post "Not Silenced, 33 Years After Her Own Subway Nightmare", The New York Times, December 10, 2012.

Below is an audio recording of the poem:


Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thank you for sharing, Maureen!

Kathleen said...

Oh, my goodness. What a story. Thank you for honoring it with your poem.

Louise Gallagher said...

We heard of this tragic event here -- thank you for sharing it so eloquently and with such heart.

Carrie Burtt said...

Really makes you think about what matters in life....this is a moving post Maureen!

Hannah Stephenson said...

I love what you've done with this story (it's heartbreaking).