The Subway at the Lake
by Anne Born

The subway doors open at Columbus Circle
and the air on the platform is suddenly fresh.
Trees from Central Park, the dew of the morning,
the warming heat of August coming up from the damp grass.

And I am back at Indian Lake, at my grandpa’s place there,
playing with my cousins.
Sailboats at the dock, the pier stretching out like train tracks
into the blue-gray water around.

Me, terrified of the dull green grasses
that grow just off shore, hidden beneath the surface
of the water.

My dad, teaching me to swim so my face stay’d dry
and I could see where I was going without my glasses.

My mother, cool sipping from a fragile Martini glass
while she sits on a lawn chair, her feet up on a stool.

My grandmother in the house.
Fish caught by grandpa for supper,
Cards and dice played after coffee,
Marshmallows toasted over the fires on the beach.

Fireflies light up the night sky,
ducking in and out of the bushes.
Wet swimsuits hang on the line.
I can taste the icy too-sweet grape Nehi.

Then the double doors shut on the subway train,
and I am heading down to Seventh Avenue now.

I wish I remembered how to play Pinochle.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a child in her green cowgirl outfit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “The Subway by the Lake” on the downtown B train [in New York City] one morning in August 2014. The poem appears in my second collection of stories written on the MTA — Prayer Beads on the Train. It describes the memories prompted by the rush of fresh air into the train car as we pulled into the Columbus Circle station one morning on my way to work. The moment lasted only as long as the train car doors were open — roughly 15 seconds. But I felt refreshed by it and found myself quickly writing down the images on the way downtown.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is a New York writer whose blog posts have appeared on Red Room, Open Salon, Bubblews, and as a feature in Non-Fiction on Wattpad (as Nilesite). She is a regular contributing writer on The Broad Side. Her writing focuses on family and life in a big city after growing up in a small one in Michigan. Anne published her first collection of MTA stories, A Marshmallow on the Bus, in June 2014. Most of her writing is done on a city bus or train. Anne is a performing artist in the Platform Series at the New York Transit Museum and has featured as a Local Poet at Inwood Local, as an author at We Heart NYC Writers sponsored by Inspired Word, and as a poet and storyteller with No Name at Word Up Community Bookstore in Washington Heights. Her poetry has also been featured at Boundless Tales at the Astoria Bookshop in Queens, New York. She is a participating member of Poetry & Coffee. Anne is a photographer who specializes in photos of churches, cemeteries, and the Way of St. James in Spain. Her photos are sold on Redbubble (Nilesite). Follow Anne Born on Twitter and Instagram @nilesite and at and