Derold Sligh
Page 2



On the subway—

black man juxtaposed against a slew of Koreans.

No one speaks except the wheels

and the rails squeaking to each other

resounding like Rottweiler-sized rats.

High heels clack, the silence disturbed

as a woman enters the subway.

I am considering offering my seat to her,

but I dare not lift my eyes from the floor.

I smell the jasmine-scented oils in her skin

distinct from the reek of sweat, garlic, gingko, and ginseng

that fills the subway car.

She is wearing high boots and the hem

of her skirt is darkened with melted snow.

There among the elderly, the bundled up,

the question-asking-adorable-children,

and one bald androgynous Buddhist adorned in gray,

I standout like a fly

drowning in a glass of white wine.

Or simpler put: I standout like a 6-foot-1 black man

on a subway full of Korean people.

The people of Gyeongsan Province cling

near to me without reason,

empty seats everywhere,

but they choose to pin me in

as if in effort to push me out.

A little girl notices how I contrast,

how my color slams against the cliffs

of homogeneity, how the color disperses like sea spray.

Her father is holding her in such a way

that her mouth is near his ear

so she can clearly narrate

everything she sees, in such a way

that she is the eyes

in the back of her father’s head.

At first, she looks surprised by me,

quickly jerking her glance away.

She has not decided if she will report to father

what she has witnessed.

She looks again with curiosity,

shyly turning away once more.

A third time, she smiles,

exposing the darkness left behind

by her missing baby teeth.

I smile back (I still have all my teeth).

The subway doors open.

As she is carried away by her father,

I stick my tongue out at her.

I see her giggle as she is lifted further away,

soon to disappear behind the horizon of people.

Before her father turns a corner

and the subway doors close,

the little girl waves goodbye.

That point when children learn

the concept of “yesterday,”

“thank you,” “I’m sorry” and


The days are not long enough.

The poetry, the poetry,

in that tiny waving hand.




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© Copyright, 2014,  Derold Sligh.
All Rights Reserved.