Saturday, September 29, 2012



Never on the long, dreary ride
did she lack distraction.
Unnoticed, like an old sign,
she hid
intrusive powers
that stealthily glided
into unsuspecting souls.

Instead of the book on her lap,
she read... them.
Each face a story,
lacking detail,
an impression of life
she could feel;
in blank, frozen stare.

So young, she knew not
to protect her heart -
only to superimpose it
on theirs,
while something like compassion,
maybe pity,
guided her to silent prayer.

It was years later
she learned,
it was the mirror of humanity
she watched,
riding on a train
to get somewhere.

It was years later,
she knew,
the watching was over,
it was her stop.

(Submitted to Dverse Poets where Brian Miller prompts us to write about people watching.)

(I rode the subway to school daily. So many of the people I watched seemed so sad to me.  I think perhaps I felt too much empathy, but this may have instigated my eventual choice of profession.  I stopped watching and started helping people.)


  1. You capture life so well. Truth finds beauty in your words.

  2. Oh -- loved the last stanza -- made me re-read the poem. Well done.

  3. I use to ride subways and wondered what people are thinking during the long trip ~ I like the ending, helping people is a good choice ~

  4. nice...i love watching people on the train...everyone is trying to get somewhere...and so much humanity scrunched together as well...she did not know yet to guard her heart...oy...i am still learning that one...ha...i find a familiar in her....

  5. LOVE it. You put so much in every post

    Aloha from Honolulu,

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  6. Very insightful post, I remember when I was you and I felt too much too. I would catch a train into the city and was sad that no matter how many times I got on I never saw the same people. I'd start trying to memorise faces and search for them next time.
    I think tired often looks like sad too.
    Beautiful poetry.

  7. subways are great places to watch people...and you not only watch but you def. see a bit beyond the visible..yes..they're all trying to get somewhere and you wonder if they make it to their destination..

  8. I've never rode on the subway before... of course I've never been to a town big enough to have one! Maybe one day I'll get to and I'll think of you poem.

  9. On the subway is a good place to see the physicals. You've described it very well. Used to make short trips to 42nd St and the then WTC. Met the same people but dressed differently each day and remaining strangers day in day out! Nicely Myrna!


  10. Very vivid imagery. We are all so different and we all go through life so differently too. When people smile, I try to see if the eyes are smiling too. Love your closing sentence, that you stopped watching and started helping. Lovely.

  11. OH! MY! GOD! This SO TOTALLY WORKS! Sorry, am excited at what you have done here - the "mirror of humanity".......and then the watching was over. "It was her stop." Absolutely stellar writing!!!!!!!!!!

  12. 'she knew not
    to protect her heart -
    only to superimpose it
    on theirs'
    So true and love that you decided to stop watching and to start helping. I too made that transition from observation to participation and it did me a world of good.

  13. This is interesting, Myrna, the idea of reading others' faces; and your comment at the end that most appeared sad. I find myself wondering if the look of the face at rest is more a sad face than a happy one.

    The last stanza to me was cryptic. She learned the watching was over. It was her stop. I this referring to death? I guess that would be everyone's last stop.

  14. I never cease to be surprised at how much the face changes when not smiling

  15. I do people watch and usually am pretty accurate of first impressions upon meeting. Making impressions purely on people's faces is somewhat harder but I reckon maybe, just maybe faces tell more than they know...

    Very insightful write.

    Anna :o]

  16. Oh I love your ending as one who was also drawn to the profession of helping :).

  17. wonderfully written and i, too, especially love the ending!

  18. And to think that my choices of a new home came down to NYC or Eugene, Oregon. If I hadn't been married, I would have chosen NY.

  19. Another wonder of your language usage. Flawless, Myrna!