Odilia Rivera Santos
I am waiting for a train at a New Jersey station and began to watch people make the private public. The man across from me, wearing polyester beige pants, a polyester green plaid shirt and a Jets jackets is reading the paper and eating a crumb cake that lies on its side looking as inanimate as a food product could possibly look. The man leans forward, leaving the paper on his lap, and he grasps the front of the wood bench on which he is seated, as if he were at a dock about to wave to a boat. But there's no boat. There is, instead, a Puerto Rican writer typing something in her blackberry -- which he probably wouldn't imagine is about him. To my right, there is an obese Black woman, also in plaid. She is wearing house slippers and smells of cafeteria mustard.
The man across breaks off another piece of the dead crumb cake with the hand that had only a moment ago lain on the dirty wood bench and I wonder how many microbes he's just swallowed.
I walk down a center corridor and there is a rail thin Black man, shirt off, slowly swinging his body left to right as if he had just gotten brand-new long sinewy arms and he is trying them out to feel their weight as they swing and checking how they bend at the creases; at his feet, there is a mound of yellow rice. I can't help but peg him as a holy man.
Another man walks by me; he stares at me and says, "wow," in a low voice meant to be internal. He walks toward me again and asksn "Don't I know you from ..."
I interrupt his question.
"No, you don't"
And as I walk away, I think
No one knows me here.