Elegy on A Subway Platform

—for Peter’s grandparents

by Michael VanCalbergh


The sky is full of clouds shaped like ships.
            The trains, going both directions, hiss
for passengers to hurry up. In
            people’s faces there’s Friday’s laughter.
Smiles hide behind hands and full mouths;
            at least there’s this small privacy. Their
feet still clack against the pavement. It’s
            embracive. Exhaust floats, dissolves. Too
much honk, movement, continue. No rest.

            Someone spills their afternoon coffee.
I stare at the puddle spread thin, blend
            with the grey. It’s like this. Surrounded
by world, I search for what, also, seems to mourn.

Michael VanCalbergh currently lives in Normal, IL and works at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His first manuscript was a finalist for the National Poetry Series 2022 Competition. His work is forthcoming from, or has appeared in, Pastel Pastoral, Beaver Magazine, autoFocus Lit, Best New Poets 2021, and many other spaces.