Here’s an old one that I just realized I’ve not shared.
On a train stop to T______ I discovered
the smallest freedoms: footsteps
of a kitten running toward the station exit
right when the car doors slide open,
a chime over the speaker system
cut off by our immediate departure,
a woman on the end of the train
on the speaker, repeating thrice
the next stop. I thought:
who makes a living like that—
who spends their whole lives
announcing where they’re headed
to anyone who’d listen? I stood at the next stop
whispered a name to myself, thrice,
walked across the platform, and waited
for a train going the opposite way.
The cold has a funny way of making you move
into and out of places—cities
or rooms, pockets or scarves.
All of them, if the cold is uncommon enough.
All I know is when I’ve returned
to Manila, all I will take
home is this winter
in a nameless town
of only noun, number, and color:
Lone Black Orchid, they’d call it.
Or Teawater. Or a Field of Cranes.
In whichever of these places, I believe,
hides the human soul: a newly opened bookstore
in a quiet district, flowers by the open door,
snow on the doorstep, a waving gold cat,
awaiting its first customer.