Our shadows fit into the train’s fresh cast
with bleached curves of plastic returning,
cleansed, the infected gleam of public lighting.
Talk needs constant motion:
our heads bow beneath lip lines,
ears point towards words pitched against
the white noise of track and rail.
While digital doof-doof from a row behind
inserts a beat more impersonal
we sit, backs toward our destination,
recalling further cautions from childhood.
In all fairness, our parents prepared us
for most trials: few words can truly warn
against beauty and the sense of pain.
My friend would rather talk of books and film
or drumming in a basement band as bombs
fell distantly (he mentions, does not dwell
on this new lifetime as a refugee.)
He has avoided gardens for nine years
and for nine years has not hung one picture
but keeps those he loves propped against the wall.
How well trained is the present by past fear:
buy art, love it, yet keep it near the door.
With every piece I buy from friends,
all earth’s artists starving to sate habits
or the family belly, I do the same:
collect works of art to stack upon the floor.
In glossy décor pages this trend of
careful impermanence contrasts against
a structured sense of place.
Life exposes fashion as discomfort.
Or, our lives do, in their separate ways,
each minus the place the train zips towards
down the line, passing real moving pictures.