It was my early twenties and she was in our poetry class, a girl taking the same train as I was one late night from Manhattan to the town of our school. She wrote beautiful poems, long lines without punctuation; but mostly she missed class because she was an actress and the rumor was she was working on a Spike Lee movie.
The train car was mostly empty and lit with a bad yellow light. Train people would read or eat or I remember liking to look out the windows into the apartments of Harlem because I longed to know how other people lived. Soon enough, the lights would dim with the darkness of the boroughs and then the suburbs.
She was sitting up to the left and she recognized me, smiled and said hello. I was startled a bit out of my reclusion and we had a small, friendly conversation about our class with Tom Lux and what a character he was. We were like strangers or almost-strangers on a train, connecting with the warm light of fireflies. She would go on to star as one of a gang of girls in a long-running TV series, but I can see her just as she was that night, a girl traveling into a future so amazingly ahead of her.
We turned back to our own private rides and the cars returned to the quiet, except for the shuffling sounds of all the tracks we crossed. I sat in the melancholy yellow light and caught a reflection of my own face in the mirror of an evening window— I, too, a girl on a train.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michele after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michele poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.