Close Is Far and Figured

We pull away, the subway platform an erased slate.
Beside me he sits
elbows on knees, that familiar poring-over position—
a young man, his father square in his palm.
Father, far and farther,
in a toe-length kanzu, tilted kofia on his head.

Then a boy slides into his hand, a backlit boy in a bowtie.
Then mother in a flowered puff-sleeve gomesi
and father sitting in a carved oak chair.
Then the boy again, bowtie loose,
then father with could-be his father.
Then mother in a skirt and blouse, stirring a large pot.
Then father, embroidered collar fiercely detailed,
and mother's red lips, red-streaked eyes,
boy’s wet cheeks.

The speeding F train lurches, empties, fills.
He steadies the distance in his hand.
I pretend not to peek but he glances, posture unfolds,
arm slightly nudges mine.
He’s seen I see, and to show me
swipes quickly past boy, father, kitchen, garden, dog,
cousins, wedding—to mother
plucking a pomegranate from a tree,
enlarging between his forefinger and thumb.