I am standing on a platform twenty feet above the ground, waiting for a train. 8 am. Around me, disinterested commuters frown and sigh. This is what I love about New York. You can do whatever you want and no one will react.
I step forward past the yellow line. I squat then lower myself onto the tracks. Between each tie is a gap through which I could easily drop into speeding traffic. I begin to walk north, where the train will be coming from. Step step step step. Past what must have been half a pigeon stuck to the track, now just white fluff and gray feathers. Step step. To my left is the third rail. To bend and touch it would be instant electrocution. I don't look at it. Step step step.
The people have been watching me, muttering, but no one has spoken to me. Now, as the train rounds the curve up ahead and comes into view, there are a few startled shouts. Just those few, then no more. They can see the determination in my eyes. I stop walking.
Carefully I plant my feet a specific distance apart and spread my arms fully, palms down. Head up, jaw set. I am a star.
And I am thinking of all the microbes in my intestines, sliding and devouring, maintaining my systems.
And I am thinking of all the tree roots pushing up pavement, interlaced and saturated, one vast green web.
And I am thinking of all the mile-wide particles in the asteroid belt, rotating and revolving, a shattered ecology.
These thoughts are held like juggling, one to the next, perfect consideration, all those elements my body needs and will never see. What I see is the silver train, brakes scraping, but that's not for me; it's not fast enough to save me. The train gets larger every instant. Now, this must happen now. I am now. This must work. Now. It is working.
I launch from the wood, straight up, without bending a knee, and the train passes under me. The rush of air is invigorating and I fight the urge to gasp in, to relax, to lose myself in observation. I must keep these thoughts as large as my surroundings. If, for instance, I were to glance down at the window of a real estate office, I would not think of the star pattern my impacting body would make. No, no. No. I would think of when that glass used to be sand, and of the beach it came from, and the cracked turtle eggs there, and the rounded trapezoids on the reptile shell. I am floating but still connected.
It is time to exercise control. I will not fall into the unchartable sky. I use gravity, and the magnetism of the metal train stopped beneath me. (Many of the commuters, watching me, have chosen to wait for the next one.) I curl up, fetal. Stop stop stop. Tendril. Nova. Cilia. I halt in midair. I pivot and tilt. Now I am face down, ovoid. Cell. Mitochondria. The top of my head is pointed along the trajectory of the train. My hair is not hanging in my eyes. Though it is July, and humid, I am not sweating. Salt. Rock. Canyon. River.
The train rumbles away, which is a terribly mundane noise when not heard from this angle. Protractor. Cathedral. Stained-glass crucifixion. I am moving forward. Soon I am faster than the train, outracing it. A smile shoots onto my features for the first time since I woke up.
Today, I may not go into work, after all.
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