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By Abigail Deutsch

New York City, 2001

One night, not long after the disaster,

as our train was passing Astor,

the car door opened with a shudder

and a girl came flying down the aisle,

hair that looked to be all feathers

and a half-moon smile

making open air of our small car.

The crowd ignored her or they muttered

“Hey, excuse me” as they passed her

when the train had paused at Rector.

The specter crowed “Excuse me,” swiftly

turned, and ran back up the corridor,

then stopped for me.

We dove under the river.

She took my head between her fingers,

squeezing till the birds began to stir.

And then from out my eyes and ears

a flock came forth — I couldn’t think or hear

or breathe or see within that feather-world

so silently I thanked her.

Such things were common after the disaster.


The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.

Source: Poetry (March 2015)

  • Living

Poet Bio

Abigail Deutsch
Abigail Deutsch, the winner of Poetry magazine’s 2010 Editors Prize for Reviewing, lives in New York. Her criticism appears in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, n+1, Bookforum, and other publications. See More By This Poet

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