Paris Métro Strike
Inside the métro car, pinned by bodies,
I felt the panic of drowning, invisibly,
against the coats of strangers,
and remembered the long ago pool
where I sank unseen, surrounded
by people, until someone’s older brother
lifted my arm and pulled me gently
to the side where I coughed, afraid.
I lined up the words:
I must get out I can’t breathe
Je dois sortir Je ne peux pas respirer
Elle ne peut pas respirer!
cried the voice to the packed car.
Doors rang open, tried to close,
rang open again on the last train running.
I circle the story. Add up the gazes.
One gives you a leg. A face.
A tremble in your skin, seachange.
My body was lifted over the crowd
and passed from one end to the other.
When I was free, with the cold,
empty air around me, I wanted
to reenter the fraternal car:
the strangers who had loved me.
My brother the boxer
waits to be beaten.
My brother of no wins,
with a forever fist
and animal eye,
enters the ring like prey.
In our condemned
toddler hand in his,
we talked to the dark
above our heads—
then never talked again.
I flinch in silence.
Our skulls share
a shape, but our eyes
trails out of the hall.
The cut-man swabs
his face. Here
fear is measured out
and I am not current
with this game,
with ropes and lights
where we squint
at the cage—