Vessel: A Poem
There is train down the road.
I call it the vessel, no set timetable, runs on sunlight and presence; not everyone rides it.
Its walls are a warm yellow, the kinds that make dark skin glow and the sun look pale.
Its seats are blue, they have oranges and reds spread on them like mustard seeds, no trees have grown yet out of the blue but the vessel has bloomed itself a rainbow to hide the ugly remnants of dirty presence and aching hearts, these have drained and fueled these wheels for years.
This vessel has been operating for lifetimes, carrying bodies to God and back, held the hardworking fathers with weak hearts and steel toe boots with its doors wide open.
Seated mothers holding a week’s worth of groceries; fed her greens light, made sure she got home safe to her four kids and leaking roof.
These carriages listen, every loud phone conversation along with the people in it, they hear the cries of the woman who lost her job, drunk teen giggling as 5 am creeps upon them. They listen to the Chinese couple talk every morning.
The floors have felt sympathy, have felt the constant hum of a heartbeat from black boys during police ticket checks, have felt the Muslim girls tremble from her Nikes to her hijab as bad presence spits terror and ISIS in her face.
The vessel opens its doors for everyone. But sometimes it wish it didn’t, sometimes it wish it could shape its bars into human and cage arms around its people because these days hate can’t be stopped by a #illrideewithyou;
and at one point we all believed the police won’t kill him if people were around but
Philando proved that they’ll kill you with your daughter in the backseat and still get away with it.
So what’s to stop the darkness from getting on this train and breathing down the necks of already broken people?
What’s to stop anyone from doing anything? We do not know their story, and them ours.
The vessel has been firsts and lasts for everyone,
the first time she trained it from town to the city,
the first time he heard that song,
the first time their eyes met and it was love.
The first time she was touched when she didn’t want it.
The first time she felt her heart drop to her stomach and she saw his grin.
The last time she was seen.
The last time anyone thought of her
The first time he had been searched, standing on the station ready to head home, the vessel opened its arms, happy to see him again.
They asked him to stay back, a ‘random search for safety’. He thought for the best, his parents and him from Syria it was all he knew to do.
They searched hard; as if looking for cheat codes to win a staring contest with the sun. They found nothing but pens and hope that shit like this gets better.
The floors quivered, this was not the first time Hamid, Ahmed or Mohammed looking boys were searched for everything and nothing.
How they never told mother or father but late at night, slept on the floor just to feel a little closer to home.
The train takes the boys home, holding its breath between each stop to make the ride a bit smoother. The train takes these girls home, lets them tilt their head back on its many shoulders and even lets them kick up their feet.
This train is a vessel, its walls are a warm yellow, the kind that makes dark skin glow and the sun look pale, its seats are blue, they have oranges and reds spread on them like mustard seeds, the seeds have dried out.
Sunlight isn’t enough to keep this vessel running, it’s winter now, and maybe clouds are the real way to make the sun blink before you do.
And maybe they found nothing but the sun in his bag.
And maybe they found God when they shot him.
And maybe there is nothing but the presence of God and sunlight under her headscarf
And maybe they only found clouds where she should have been.
But we’ll never know, the train cannot speak and has long forgotten how to use the PA system to whisper a God resounding stop to the hate between each upcoming station.
But we’ll never know, maybe this has been fueling the trains all along.
So some context on this poem
I wrote this poem when I heard and witnessed a few of the infamous racist rants that go off on train stations (subway or metro, whatever your country calls them) and buses. Discriminating acts that have occurred or can occur every day to actual people on public transport, and how the train represents the feelings of a majority of individuals when we hear of the modern tragedies going off everyday in front of ourselves and often do nothing but want to.