My Stop is Grand

I have no illusion
some fusion
               of force and form
will save me,
              of bonelight
ungrave me

as when the El
shooting through a hell
               of ratty alleys
where nothing thrives
but soot
              and the ratlike lives
that have learned to eat it

screechingly peacocked
a grace of sparks
              so far out and above
the fast curve that jostled
and fastened us
               into a single shock of—
I will not call it love

but at least some brief
and no doubt illusionary belief
               that in one surge of brain
we were all seeing
one thing:
                a lone unearned loveliness
struck from an iron pain.

Already it was gone.
Already it was bone,
              the gray sky
and the encroaching skyline
pecked so clean
              by raptor night
I shuddered at the cold gleam

we hurtled toward
like some insentient herd
                plunging underground at Clark
and Division.
And yet all that day
              I had a kind of vision
that's never gone completely away

of immense clear-paned towers
and endlessly expendable hours
               through which I walked
teeming human streets,
filled with a shine
              that was most intimately me
and not mine.


Christian Wiman, "My Stop is Grand" from Once in the West. Copyright © 2014 by Christian Wiman.  Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Source: Once in the West (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2014)
More Poems by Christian Wiman