The Escalator

I’m half way up when the stranger topples.
Her clumsy lack of balance becomes a heavy,

dangerous weight I cannot right. As her body
repels the force of dirty treads, my shoulders

block her petrified bulk. I grip the wide
rubber rail, feel it shudder, her black hair tangles

in my mouth. My other hand gropes her coat;
a very intimate struggle, the abyss behind us

getting deeper all the time. Those on the descent
look embarrassed as they glide down to trains,

until at last, the top, where I lever her upright,
let her go. She walks right into the street

without a thank you. I want to cry and behind me
commuters rise, straight as candles, from the dark.

________________

Escalator

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