Madonna and child on the 4 at 59th Street
Asleep on the long plastic seat
mother and child curl into each other.
Their half-moon lids shut out the world
and hold in tenderness.
Light from the overhead panels
touches the mother’s face
her orange hair, rounded cheeks,
the rainbow tufts on her slippers.
A newspaper scrap blows at her feet.
It’s a book review. Walt Whitman.
His compassion booms through the ragged page:
“Shelter the souls who inhabit your space.”
The train rockets toward the Bronx.
Few riders get on and off these days
except for the sleepers
Through gaps in dark trees
we lift our gaze from the road.
The stars enfold us.
Holly Russell’s work has appeared in Hibiscus: poems that heal and empower and Rattle’s Poets Respond Live. She is working on more poems for a collection.