The leg in the subway
by Oscar Williams
When I saw the woman's leg on the floor of the subway train,
protrude beyond the panel (while her body overflowed my minds eye),
when I saw the pink stocking black shoe curve bulging with warmth,
the delicate etching of the hair behind the flesh colored gauze,
when I saw the ankle of Mrs. nobody going nowhere for a nickel,
When I saw this forward motionless on the motionless floor,
my mind caught on a nail of a distant star,
I was wrenched out of the reality of the subway ride,
I hung in a socket of distance: and this is what I saw:
The long tongue of the Earth's speed was licking the leg ,
upward and under and around went the Long tongue of speed:
it was made of a flesh invisible, it dripped the saliva of miles: it drank moment
lit shivers of insecurity in niches between bones:
it was full of eyes,
It stopped licking to look at the passengers:
it was as alive as a worm,
and busier than anybody in the train: it spoke saying:
to whom does this Leg belong ? Is it a bonus leg for the rush-hour?
It is a forgotten leg,among the many millions of legs did an extra leg fall in from Out There?
O woman, sliced off bodily by the line of the panel, shall I roll your leg
into the abdominal nothing, among digestive teeth?
Or shall I fit it in
with the pillars that hold up the headlines? But nobody spoke
Though all the faces were talking silently, as the train zoomed, a zipper closing up
swiftly the seam of time.
Alas, said the long tongue of the speed of the Earth quite faintly, what is one to do with an incorrigible leg that will not melt?
but everybody stopped to listen to the train vomiting cauldrons of silence,
or somebody's jolted out afterthought trickle down
the blazing shirt front solid with light bulbs
and just then the planetary approach of the next station exploded atoms of light , and when the train stopped the leg had grown a surprising mate,
and the long tongue hurriedly slipped out through a window :
I percieved through the hole left by the nail of the star in my mind
how civilization was as dark as a wood and dimensional with things
and how birds dipped in chromium sang
in the crevices of our deeds