Past 1 a.m., pacing booklessly along the platform
having walked the half mile down Broadway to Canal
Street Station, foreswearing the F for the Q Train
that flies—flies!—across the Manhattan Bridge.
But this wait. Half a fucking hour. An eternity
of tunnel-tilting impatience. There is surely

a reason: maintenance; illness; police action. Surly
transit guys in day-glo vests rest on the platform
propped against the tiles, indifferent to eternity,
as if restless time were a root canal,
suffered, endured. No nearer the bridge,
I approach the men, blustering: “Is the goddamn Q Train

in operation?” This is the question. “Pardon. The Q Train.
Is it coming?” From them, no stirring, no surly
rejoinder. “Is there a tie-up on the bridge?
May I address you? Do you live here on this platform?”
They gather around me, the would-be passengers of Canal
Street Station, awaiting directions, or eternity.

“No trains,” says a workman, after a contemptuous eternity,
“Stop here tonight. Upstairs for the Q Train.”
They follow me, the passengers, through Canal
Street Station, and one in particular, Shirley,
introduces herself right there on the platform,
and asks, would I share with her a taxi across the bridge.

Outside, I hail a cab and we’re roaring to the bridge,
to her place, deep in Flatbush. My last $20, eternity,
diminishing in 50-cent ticks. On the platform
there was chatter: the swelter, the hour, the Q Train.
In the cab, flying fast, I’m full of talk and Shirley,
now terse, is out of cash, though she spoke to me at Canal

Street Station, which was, at least, unusual. Can all
this be accidental? Without echo? We’re well past the bridge,
past the arch and the park, past kismet. “Good night, Shirley,”
I say, and I’m broke and walking five blocks later. It’s eternity,
debarking a long two miles from the DeKalb Ave. Q Train
station where I meant to arrive, alone, on the platform.

At Canal Street Station, the wait is only eternity
and a stalled, standing ride over the bridge on the Q Train,
the lost smitten hour before I am surely released to the platform.