On my way to the Métro
I saw you at once when I emerged from the darkness
of the underpass.
You were slumped against the concrete barrier,
backpack at your side,
your neck cocked at a right angle
facing the sun
and I thought,
Your neck will hurt when you wake up,
and you’ll have one hell of a sunburn,
but only on half your face.
But as I walked closer,
things I didn’t want to notice,
and wouldn’t choose to see:
your belly didn’t move up and down
fresh track marks and a smear of blood
on your tender inner elbow
and my realization, strangely, was that
you might not be the type to worry about
a crick in your neck.
someone must have held you and rocked you to sleep,
and yet, I could not bring myself
to touch you,
to shake you,
to check for a pulse.
I dared not even
touch your shoe
with my sandaled toe,
or call out to you.
I continued walking –
I did not hurry –
to the Métro station
where within the walls,
I called 9-1-1.
The phone rang
six, seven, eight times
before a woman answered in French.
I asked if she spoke English,
wanting to avoid any miscommunication.
I told her where you could be found:
with your right-angle neck
and the tracks on your arm,
between rue Ferdinand
and rue Notre-Dame Ouest
on the sidewalk parallel to the railroad.
Later, I wondered,
if it happened like this:
your face turned,
your cheek accepting the kiss of the sun,
and the light blinding white,
censored all traces of darkness.