After a line by Laurence Ferlinghetti
by Jennifer Finstrom

When the young man and woman orbit from one
train car to the next on the first warm morning
after the polar vortex, I am waiting
for the daily spell cast by my commute to end.

And when the man pulls the cord above the door
and it opens, stopping the train, he shouts
“Is this what you want?” and tries to throw his
girlfriend out into the air over the elevated

tracks between the Wilson and Sheridan Red Line
stops, and I am not waiting for anything at all.
And when a US marine, who is also on the train,
takes control of the situation, it is still only a few

minutes past 8 a.m., and the sun is still shining.
The police are waiting on the Sheridan platform,
and a nineteen-year-old man has tried and failed
to throw his girlfriend from a moving train.

And I wonder what would have happened if she
had let herself be released into the bright air,
if she would have become a small brown bird
with a splash of red on its breast, and when I step

out of the train, my own identity is waiting to settle
back over me like a cloak of feathers. The snow
is melting into puddles, and I imagine that I see
the planets there, and even though I feel how they

still move, I know that everyone has changed.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I find the lines “and I am waiting / for linnets and planets to fall like rain” in Ferlinghetti’s poem very compelling, and as I was wondering what they might lead to, I found myself revisiting another poem that I had been meaning to write and seeing some elements of confluence between them.

IMAGE: “The Blue Bird” by Marc Chagall (1968).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Finstrom teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates a writing group, Writers Guild, at DePaul University. She has been the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine since October of 2005, and her work appears or is forthcoming in After HoursNEATMidwestern GothicOne Sentence Poems, and Yew Journal, among others. In addition, she has a poem forthcoming in the Silver Birch Press The Great Gatsby Anthology.