Volume 33, Number 4

Dante on the Metro

Beatrice dropped him at Station de la Concorde,
No thought in his head for a banlieue train.
They'd guided him through all three realms, of course,
But this loop of Limbo was different. Brighter,
Newspapers on the floor in four languages,
Weary workers leaning against rare seats,
Students reading Virgil with barely a finger to the pole
For balance, children wide-eyed at the feat.
What sustenance does a soul find on the Orange Line?
Are there chocolatines left at this hour in the little shop?
The poet’s understanding breathes it in:
This seat reserved for those in need, stand back from the doors,
Let another enter, make room, steady your neighbor.
What is more divine than this?
The wheels beneath us turn our separate wills
For this moment to shared purpose:
Neighbor’s comfort and a safe road forth.
The poet has heard an echo his fellow travelers have not yet,
Of the Last Trumpet—but tonight the first notes
Announce every station for the common man.
Three notes rise, together home through the night.

—Marissa Lingen