A traveler,
Passport in pocket and map in hand,
Walks in step with the locals.
The world aboveground is brand new to him
(and less than postcard-perfect)-
but subways match up
city after city.

He descends into familiar space,
tile walls and sticky floor comforting,
fluorescent yellow beaming like a nightlight
On the train he falls into unspoken rules:

No eye contact,
No conversation,
No connection.

Everyone knows, as if signs stamped out th elawa nd hung solidly next to the maps and advertisements.

If he could make eye contact, he could smile at this woman
with a Polaroid camera cradled in her lap
and show her the matching model weighing heavy in his backpack.

If he could make conversation, he would ask the youth with the battered headphones
to show him teh record store that sold him his vinyl
vinyl wedged between two seats
and protected by a hovering hand.

But it is not allowed,
in the tunnels-
And he will walk in step with the locals
until he finds his way

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