Aboard the hustler’s train,
my gaze drifts to a reflection ahead
where a group of girls collect themselves in a corner and laugh that secret laugh.
One stands out.
This is important.
Her almond chestnut hair catches a light as the train curves through the tunnel.
The grey and black of her hand knitted sweater are fit to the most precarious desires.
Her smile stretches across this continent and the one below.
She is a ringleader. A centerfold. A dream, fire-cast into what passes for the real these days.
But still, she isn’t an original species.
I’ve seen this girl before.
She’s the girl who works at the cafe who purposefully mispronounces my name on my Chai in order to break the ice.
She’s the girl at the bookstore with the fringed tips dunked in Tequila Sunrises chatting with a coworker about Kafka.
She’s the girl at Peets who even at the torrid beginning moments of the work day, shares an irrevocably genuine smile for every customer, no matter how toxic they may be.
She’s the flannel clad Texas lass who towers over me as we discuss the prominence of the Austin film scene.
She’s the nebbish curator who suggests we meet sometime to talk about alternative art spaces.
She’s the business-casual gal riding the cluttered N train home, trying to keep the empathy alight in her eyes as she turns the day off.
She’s every set of unfamiliar locked eyes passing on the street.
She’s every quick glance averted to the ground that carries the burden of “what if?”
She’s everyone except You.