Überhaus Diary: At the Train Station

This is a shorter vignette, almost a poem. It dates from October, 1999. The rainy city poised on the brink of a new millennium, floodlit cranes in sharp relief against the blooms of gray mist. The world was full of possibilities for a man just past thirty, full of longing.

This little piece brims with some of  that optimism, and some of the sadness.

Portland Union Station, October 1999
Portland Union Station, October 1999

October 19th, 1999

Across the station I walk, my head full of plans, my heart
alone and nowhere in particular
I grab a paper and notice the crushed fingers of the Asian who runs the stand
small, stumpy hands stained black with newsprint
It’s as real as TV.

I spin on my heel and walk
turn toward the restroom where a man presses
into the urinal as though pushing a stalled car
full of damsels–

but it is shame, not heroism
He can’t pee if a stranger watches.
I can’t either, so I sit in the stall and unfold my paper
No news is good news, and I bought it anyway
to read while I pee like a girl, safe.

Zipped and buttoned, a proper citizen
I stroll into the foyer, my feet ringing on the polished marble
The vast air above me filled with waiting angels perhaps
left over from the war.

What do they know, to hang around watching, for so long?
And, as luck would have it, we pass, our breath brushing each other
strangers now, sure, in our tight coats and heads
full of plans

Who can see the rainy night, our arms around each other
hearts beating alone in our glistening chests
the same rhythm all that time?


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