Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
The Schmooze

POEM: ‘Return From Elsewhere’

Don’t yell at me,
whisper: try to stop

I let him drink from me
I let him speed us up to the end

to extremes I couldn’t imagine—

(these are words
that cannot be written)

At the 7th Avenue station

drained and soiled
I forgot

what any child knows by heart

I couldn’t read the signs
it was late

I panicked

Where do you live, lady?

from the subway tunnel
a deep voice spoke to me

through the bars

dark, in shadows,

it should have scared me

but only an angel could have known
I was lost

I needed a ticket
he needed some change

(or was he there for another reason)

he swiped his card
guided me through the turnstile

I thanked him,
almost forgot to pay him

turned and went in the wrong direction

Where do you live, lady?

he shook his head, pointed up the stairs, across
and down—

he watched as I walked away

waited till I was safe
on the other side

and waved.

From “Return From Elsewhere” (Outriders Poetry Project, 2014)

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.