As I Approached

As I approached, with trepidation, the barred window, I was about to ... (no, could I?) ... I was about to ... commit the offense of asking a question ... how to get ... to Fourteenth Street. Imagine my amazement when the face behind the window actually turned aside from its phone, from talking to its boyfriend, and what emerged was a human being who seemed to see me as another human being, worthy of an answer - in clear words - with a wave of her arm, showing me how to go, where to turn, where to descend, what to look for - directions I could really understand. She must have been a trainee who had flunked her slurring class, and did so poorly in rudeness training that surely she would not last long in the New York subway system. But I saw her face like the moon through trees, pouring light into the twilight forest, and even, as we sometimes imagine the moon, with its clean illumination, bearing a slight smile.

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