(Cowboy Poet Tony Moffeit aptly described this poem as an "anti-sex" poem. I often read "Japanese Print" and "There Is No Lace in the Subway" together to bring out the extreme contrast.)
There Is No Lace in the Subway
(Portrait of the Failed Romantic)
One a.m. in the subway.
To the man across from her she says,
These are things we will never share:
A bowl of fruit and a pot of tea beside the beside the bed.
Our bodies wrapped
in lace curtains at a window.
He looks at her like she's strange.
But, he is a poet, too.
Sometimes, life is plain, he says.
Without a peach
or a cup with a delicate handle,
transparent when held to light.
She struggles for more, says,
I would like for you to see my breasts
Should I eat the hard apple from this paper sack
and pretend it is the taste of peach
dripped on your pillow,
or the wetness of steeped breakfast tea
on the linens
in a lovely stain?
Is there anything wrong with just plain sex?
Three minutes past one.
The subway is empty.
She is thirsty.
The aching face of the conductor says,
Fresh out of tea and sugar.
His dry mouth yells, Last Run!
The man drinks from a flat tin flask,
pours a drink between her lips,
dribbles on her blouse, raises her skirt,
and takes her
against the hard metal pole.
I can't come in this place! she cries over the engine's noise.
He shouts into her neck, Yes, you can! And she does.
See, there are windows in the subway, he chants
to the beat of their motion,
to the click of the subway rails.
She can only close her eyes,
tighten her grasp on the hand straps.
Nod a yes.
without morning sun.
(Poem is revised from copy in the American Muse, and also in Dances in Straw with a Two-Headed Calf.)
Causes Bonnie Roberts Supports
The Southern Poverty Law Center, The National Resource Defense Council, The ACLU, Doctors without Borders, Save Darfur