This image has been coming to me for years. I put it together on my Saturday bus ride back from St. Paul this evening. It is so vivid in my mind's eye, and so persistent.
An image haunts my mind's eye,
but only on a Saturday:
A subway station on the west side,
maybe 145th st., maybe 42nd,
on a Saturday evening,
minutes before I was shot to death,
21 years before I was born.
The subway looked felt & smelled
much the same
there and then
as it would 50 years later.
But it shook
like quaking, quiet earth.
I could feel the blood start to overcome me,
even before I was hit.
Nothing before and nothing after was relevant.
There was only that time,
the dying time,
precious and violent.
What mattered in life was only
appreciating some of the small experiences:
a Schubert song,
the nearness of waning sehnsucht.
I had no idea of how much I earned,
of who might have done this,
of what the afterlife may or may not be like,
or whether I was “saved.”
Only the white, glazed tile,
bricks leading up from the floor,
people buzzing by on their way to an evening’s pleasure,
or fleeing pain,
or just plain bored.
And the moment
of taking in eternity
the size of a slivered silver dollar
The blood running up from the floor,
the glaze bright over my eyes, just like the tile.
No life flashing before me.
No thought of a strange future memory
in some fifty years' time.
No pathetic regret.
Just empty and walking up the tile
tile by tile...
And the sense that
this would be