Stranger, When We Meet

by AE Paulino

I rode the train back home

and couldn't keep my eyes off my reflection,

this always happens--

obsessed, I have to know how I look

moment to moment, stop to stop,

the subtle changes in who I am,

glass acrossly framed, tells me

in transparent summary;

There's no time to meet

the attractive eyes of a stranger,

the jealous, the nervous, or the curious--

No, no, there's no room on that glass

where I'm strange enough for me,

jealous enough, nervous, and by every mean--


I know some can see my amazement,

my fascination, my subject;

I worry they think me two dimensionally vain

but, only for a slight second's fraction--

before I notice how such a thought

shapes my face, gives it character,

establishes a reserved countenance

of satisfied disappointment, paranoid trust,

of discorded agreement with the fellow

in the glass who, for a second's fraction

did not mirror my vision--

and like a director to an unprepared actor,

I function it my privilege

to extract that performance;

for myself and the strangers

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