Friday, June 24, 2011

This isn't me

by Edward Hirsch

It's that vague feeling of panic
That sweeps over you
Stepping out of the #7 train
At dusk, thinking, This isn't me
Crossing a platform with the other
Commuters in the worried half-light
Of evening, that must be

Someone else with a newspaper
Rolled tightly under his arm
Crossing the stiff, iron tracks
Behind the train, thinking, This
Can't be me stepping over the tracks
With the other commuters, slowly crossing
The parking lot at the deepest
Moment of the day, wishing

That I were someone else, wishing
I were anyone else but a man
Looking out at himself as if
From a great distance,
Turning the key in his car, starting
His car and swinging it out of the lot,

Watching himself grinding uphill
In a slow fog, climbing past the other
Cars parked on the side of the road,
The cars which seem ominously empty
And strange,
          and suddenly thinking
With a new wave of nausea
This isn't me sitting in this car
Feeling as if I were about to drown

In the blue air, that must be
Someone else driving home to his

Wife and children on an ordinary day
Which ends, like other days,
With a man buckled into a steel box,
Steering himself home and trying
Not to panic

In the last moments of nightfall
When the trees and the red-brick houses
Seem to float under green water
And the streets fill up with sea lights.

"Commuters" by Edward Hirsch, from Wild Gratitude. © Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

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