Coffee in hand, I descended the subway stairs, sat on a bench and started to read an old book of poetry. Actually, as far as poetry goes, I suppose it’s quite new. The man that sat next to me I haven’t seen in forever. I don’t know his name, or where he comes from, but I saw him every morning during my commute fall through summer, even if I was running late, he was there. I watched his son grow up some too, new haircuts, new shoes, lost teeth. They spoke Hebrew together (or what I assume is Hebrew) and even though the son, near five I guessed, was old enough to walk himself, the father always carried him on his hip and held him on the train. Today, the son sat in a stroller, a purple one, and strapped to the man’s chest was a new face, a baby girl, in a fleece hat with ears, cheeks red, and surprised at everything.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. How have you been?”
This was the first time he’s ever said anything to me- so articulate and slow and calm. I was expecting accents, I was expecting him to always exist as a sort of home movie projected in front of me, because that’s how I felt watching him with his children. A handsome man with gray streaks in his hair, dressed plainly.
I romanced the idea of who he was, his wife (though he wore no band), his home, the earthy way he smelled, the toy boxes his son kept in his room, the color of their carpet and kitchen walls. He spoke and he was no longer a moving picture, and there was no accent. But he was still quite handsome, and the romance continued.
“I’ve been well. A new addition?”
“This is Ayelet Ann”
I was thinking ‘oh, what a lovely name’ when he said “Ayelet means ‘deer’ and Ann means ‘moon.’ Six months old now.” Deer. Moon. Sometimes I feel like I’m on the Truman Show.
I wondered if that baby would grow up to be long and lean, skittish and proud. Would she keep her doe eyes and wispy lashes? Would she be quick to flee or would she hold her ground? Would she always look this surprised?
The train came. I pretended to be lost in my book, but Ezra Pound wasn’t doing a thing for me this morning. I thought about deer. And moons, plural: the red ones, the halved one, the slivers and the wholes.
I fell asleep last night watching the moon moving through its phases at hyper speed; yet to my anxious eyes, its waxing and waning moved like mornings- slow and sluggish.
I stood at the station and watched the man walk away, his son charioted, his daughter backpacked. His feet turned outward when he walked, and the soles of his shoes were yellow, flashing like a traffic light droning yield.