344 East 134th Street Apt 6c

Bronx, New York 10454

 

July 30, 2001

 

Dear A,

 

A woman in dark glasses and a burnt-orange coat got onto the train at Prospect Street and sat down next to me. When the train was underway, she got up and moved next to a man fingering a large bunch of keys. He glanced at her, and then spread his legs wide so that his knee touched her thigh. She didn’t move. He ground his heels into the floor. When the train stopped a number of people got off, leaving the three of us alone in the car. The woman began to speak.

 

"People all over the world are in captivity, in ecstasy and pain. Departing from, and arriving in places for reasons that are not their own. Why has no one searched for the shape of the world in my belly, felt the beat of its heart with their fingers?"

 

She repeated these words several times until I knew them well enough to follow along. Then, abruptly, she stopped, peered at her watch and declared that it was eleven sixteen. The man lifted a plastic bag that had been leaning against his side and let it hang between his legs. After a minute he turned toward her, made eye contact, and offered her the bunch of keys. The woman said "Thank you for your contribution." He got off at the next stop, and she and I got off at the Bronx Zoo.

 

 

 

Agnes