God Rides A Train He likes to arrive quietly to survey what he’s done, and inconspicuously-- today, a hazy Tuesday morning in July, he is a somewhat disheveled middle-aged man riding the A train. Not like in the days of old when he would descend with a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning. The Greeks went in for that kind of display, but modern mortals like their divinity to be slightly less grandstanding.
He prefers the A line, the longest in the system, because his body understands the gentle rocking of the train as it snakes its way through neighborhood after neighborhood. Years before he made a backroom deal with his favorite conductor, a gentle woman of 60 whose cheekbones bore a strong resemblance to Mary Magdalene’s (he adored that fallen woman so). Since then she turns a blind eye when he clumsily jumps the turnstile in return for the promise she will never have a jumper —rare these days to have that particular notch in one’s belt, but who can make that guarantee if not God himself?
He adjusts his body to the slick seat, marks each of them as they enter and exit. Waits each week for the Chinese woman with grandson in tow, fairly certain she recognizes him but is simply too polite to stare. He tells himself that next time he’ll strike up a conversation and each week in front of the mirror rehearses what he will he say: Your son, that rare boy you loved so, he is with me. We play chess every Wednesday night at 10. He lets me win. God is fond of the tattooed hipster who enters at Canal Street because he reminds him of his son-- sweet and slightly innocent in the way only a savior can be. When the Jamaican nanny steps on at West 4th, kids dangling from each arm, he recalls the dreams she had when she was small and alone in her bed in Kingston, dreams of being on stage, and he regrets thinking there was a better path for her. Looking at her harassed face, he decides to stay out of people’s aspirations from now on.
He regards the slouched, grey woman in the corner seat mumbling to herself about the gods. He’d like to trade places with her. Better to rail against them than to actually be one, he thinks. There is nothing glamorous about being divine. It’s a burden, really. Omniscience, infallibility? Sorrow upon sorrow.
Lynne Cattafi teaches English at a private school in New Jersey. When she's not teaching her students to love writing poetry and reading books, she enjoys drinking coffee, building Lego cities from scratch with her children, walking her beagle, and reading historical fiction and mysteries. She is a Poetry Reader at Marias at Sampaguitas, and her poetry has appeared in Elephants Never, Marias at Sampaguitas, The Wellington Street Review, and Vita Brevis. She can be found on Twitter @lynnecatt.