On the train towards work
a girl aged two or so
squirms in her Maclaren stroller,
her attention lurching between
the adult passengers around her
and a book about butterflies.
At one point the book slips
from her grasp; I reach down
to retrieve it, smile, place it on her lap.
This girl—Lauren, she’s called—
returns a wonderfully sloppy smile,
years yet from anything pulled
tight. Her father, he of corduroy
pants and kind-eye crinkles,
prods her to “thank the nice lady,”
which she does, adorably (“tank”).
As I sit with temporary lift,
contemplate “life lightweight,”
Lauren’s rubber-band body contorts,
back curling out, and a full-on wail
escapes, filling the car.
“WOUAAA WOUAAA WU WU WOUAAAAAA!”
To her right, another stroller-bound
toddler, maybe a year Lauren’s elder,
looks up from his dimpled hands,
objects of recent study.
While other passengers cringe,
rush to stuff their ears
with music, this little boy is
calm through the outburst.
He turns to his distressed
peer, eyes all empathy.
I know, I know. But they don’t.
They’ve already forgotten.