Perfect Stranger

She remembers the day, the feeling,
as if it were some recent occurrence
and not a unique phenomenon
from twelve years prior.
During a subway ride to her then home,
a sweet top-floor apartment
in the heights whose most notable
feature was skylights in two of the four rooms,
it happened, this visitation, sudden, unannounced.
It had been a long day in the office and the
parade of small annoyances had taken its toll
on her nerves.  She was reading a collection of
Plath, commiserating, contemplating, when
the train stopped, the innocuous chime sounded,
and the doors opened, a destination reached,
although one not yet hers.  He got on there,
oblivious to the heat, the clamor, the anxious
hustle and bustle that delineated so many in this
trite urban panorama.  A dozen years
plays tricks with memory, and lost now along
with a definitive eye color was the exact title
of the book he read, although she recalls being impressed
by its intellectual rigor.  He was toned, confident,
a man at the top of his game, exuding an effortless charisma
as he flicked back an unruly strand of hair across his face
once the train regained its rumbling momentum.
Their eyes met in a way that defied all the unspoken rules
that defined individual survival in this busy megalopolis.
It was electric, and mutual, a look that at once unleashed
a million untold secrets and harsh truths about loneliness
and inner longings, a chemical reaction that changed
its component elements forevermore.  In that glance
reality fell away and insights were shown in a light
where complex connections all made sense.  Embarrassed smiles
followed, but before either could venture forth a better means
to communicate, the train slowed in approach to its
next station stop, and soon the mad rush of tired humanity
flooded in, interfering, preventing what could have been,
in the keenly acute crystal clarity of distant hindsight,
the start of something wonderful and eternal, a new way
toward completion. She tried to make her way across to
where he had been standing, but now he was gone,
a vision dissipated, as if he had only been a trick of her
troubled imagination, a daily commuter’s sad mirage.
For weeks after, she tried timing the same journey
in hopes of finding him again,  and even considered
placing an ad in the Voice, where others reached out
with public notices to those seen in similar instances.
She decided such declarations reeked of desperation,
yet she checked for months afterward to see if he
perhaps thought otherwise.  Millions of stories
comprise the heart and soul of the naked city, and yet
some never even get started.  So many years later,
she still never wavers, knowing in fact he was the one.

Gary Glauber