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  • On the subway I’m usually bored, annoyed, focused, distracted or afraid. Rarely am I noticing. But this time I looked up and in the thick of people - it was one of those rides where you couldn’t bend over to pick up a dime if you dropped it - that full; I saw a young man, maybe 16? He had a hood over his head and loose, very loose jeans. I could not see more than his cheeks which were soaked with tears.

    Maybe because he could have been a boy that I taught poetry to in the South Bronx, maybe because I cry in spite of myself, too. I don’t know why. But my heart raced and pounded with alarm and sadness, a tender urgency. The peculiar collision of the urban toughness uniform and the woundedness unfurled.

    I found a small piece of paper in my bag. I wrote on it - I am sorry you are suffering. I folded it up. And sat wondering how to hand it to him, when. Would he yell at me? Would he laugh at me? Would he throw it to the ground? Men in suits talking loudly formed a wall between us. He slipped out too soon. I was too unsure. I couldn’t reach him.
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