Age: 16, Grade: 10
School Name: Dalton School, New York, NY
Educator: Chris Hood
the black void is drawn open, screaming, shrieking
before the door will shut,
one collective glance goes straight through the man who emerges
from the depths of the other crowded subway cars,
and then every eye hastily returns back to a phone, a bag, or a friend.
the man staggers across the car and begins his well-rehearsed speech
apologizing for troubling anyone
a couple sitting on seats of bright orange
“work was meh, what should we eat for dinner?”
as he approaches, the woman hugs her bag closer to her body,
and her voice fights against his.
grimacing as he brushes by her,
she speaks louder, faster, frantic;
her voice, an umbrella blocking the man’s cloud of grey, threatening to damper her mood and ruin her appetite
once he passes, her voice slows and eases like relief
so, Chinese or pizza?
and only when the man fades into the next subway car and the door slams shut,
will the woman loosen the bag from her body, never fully accepting his apology