I see you, boy on subway.
The way your hair gently clings to scalp because of the sweat you’ve egested while working to internalize Janie’s struggle from sexualized girlhood to sexualized womanhood.
The way your shirt was once upon some time tucked into your pants with a belt for security but everything, even Tea Cake’s rabies, devolves into chaos. Why should your pants imply anything else?
The way your eyes — you tell people they’re russet — gaze out the train window, distant as if searching for something other than the darkness behind false plexiglass. Perhaps you’re debating whether dialect is productive or, as your PC gut can’t help but suspect, insulting. That’s hot.
I see the way your glasses, with familiar frames built by tiny hands bearing Chinese blood and hipster purposes sit atop a nose you once had broken for you because you were a weak child with hopes of A Better Tomorrow. Of course, you don’t approve of the lenses’ origins, but how else would I, a stranger, know to check the title of the book you’re holding or discern that you’re a sensitive feminist-thinking type who laughs and cries at the absurdity of Janie riding a cow in a flood who didn’t understand what was happening the first time you read the book — I’m sorry, the first time you unraveled the narrative of the book.
Your fingers drum against the book as you hold it against your hip like an emasculated Middle-American youth going to school while his father valiantly fights The Great War. Are we, you ask yourself in a silence that is filled with people making people sounds, in Eatonville? Is this train the theoretical mass both jointly and independently worried about the change, love and inter-mutual safety Zora writes of? You rub your arm with the book holding hand. Yeah, the gym is definitely paying off.
I watch you smile. Happy that your mind, even in its lazy subway hour chooses to recline on a divan built from the words and phrases of great minds — writers that only Advanced High School Classes would dare attempt. Writers you may one day rise from this slatternly subway car to join — through an exit panel in the ceiling that’s one requirement for passage is a meager understanding of this queer world and an ability to sell it. Is your jaw defined or is Zora just my favorite author?
I find myself drawn to you. From my seat to your stance I have to wonder:
Are you hot, subway boy? Or are you just holding Their Eyes Were Watching God?