after John Donne

I look out, squinting, through the subway’s scrum.
Today, I take the R train, riding from
Queens to the 59th Street stop, alone
Among the many others, and unknown
As they cast glances at me, in a hurry
For home themselves. I check my watch and worry
I’ll miss the sunset over the Hudson’s face.
I think of what I will do, just in case
I come across the son of man beneath
The bridge in Central Park where in a wreath
Of trash he sits below the tourists’ feet.
He has no place to put his head, the street—
His bed—is made of dust that grays his cheeks.
And I? What will I do? The past few weeks,
I’ve turned from him, walked past as darkness falls.
I’ve rushed home and ignored the quiet calls
Of his sad sign. This time, I fail again.
I leave him with his empty cup and pain.
I leave him, sitting shadowed by the sun.
The light dies out, and evening has begun.
Tomorrow, when I will receive his blood
And body on my tongue, I’ll ask for mud
To wash me, make me more like him, the one
I did not love. And when the washing’s done,
I’ll walk west, back to that deserted place
And hope that he will recognize my face.