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On the Subway for the First Time

By Liv Mammone

The train is a creature that moves like water.
It has no eyes, only a sharp
mouth that closes on those too slow.
All around is accident. All around is climb
and slip and fall and that current below could
kill you but you’re riding now so the car
is a dragon and the rail is a bolt of lightning; a storm
under its wings and you on its back.
Or the car is a wave and the rail, its tide and you
are Jesus walking on blue salt.
Jesus was very like a disabled woman.
You know body as miracle.
You know the gorging eyes of onlookers
who want to make your body miracle
when it wants only holding.
So many people have called you inspiration
like it was your name, you forget
you can inspire yourself.
Your tongue, brain, heart
can each be organs of praise.
Your crutches are not ugly. They held fast
through clinging litter and someone's urine.
Your hamstrings, so many times cut
open, took on four flights of stairs.
No one cares that the elevator in this station
hasn't worked in six months.
No one cares enough to give you a seat.
Praise, even, the anonymity in how they turn
their faces away. Because your feet
have never been fast but were faultless
enough to carry you over that gap
that holds all your terror
before those doors closed.
They will carry you up until the sun hits your face and on
into a room where people wait for you.
Only you can know the work it took to stand
here making this boring, transitory bullet your altar.
That work is worth singing about.
You stand, your knees a shaking shout.



Listen as Liv Mammone reads "On the Subway for the First Time".

Added: Thursday, July 7, 2022  /  Used with permission.
Liv Mammone

Liv Mammone is an editor and poet from Long Island, New York. Her poetry has appeared in wordgathering, monstering, Wicked Banshee, The Medical Journal of Australia, and others. In 2017, she competed for Union Square Slam as the first disabled woman to be on a New York national poetry slam team. She was also a finalist in the Capturing Fire National Poetry Slam in 2017. She has edited multiple books across genre including the Margins and Murmurations novels by trans activist, Otter Lieffe, and the poetry collection, They Named Her Goddess (we called her girl) by Uma Dwivedi, which was nominated for a Write Bloody Book Award. A Brooklyn Poets Fellow and Zoeglossia fellow, she works currently as an editor at Game Over Books.

Other poems by this author