Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Paris, France
December 31
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out


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OCTOBER 9, 2010 5:57PM

Across from me on the Metro

Rate: 8 Flag


In a grimace, like
she was dying
her downturned eyes
slide off her round brown
cheeks.  A tongue the exact
color of a strawberry and the
shape of a worm, escapes
her mouth and points
      I stare at her and see
my reflection beyond, skull-
white.  My cheekbones
like the backs of two
small shovel blades.     
     We meet eyes with
a not unfriendly gaze,
and a sort of mutual acknowledgement
that had that been a seizure,
I would have done my best to save her.
And that, had I not succeeded,
I would absolutely have gone to her funeral.   


 On the weekends, I try to do something about the "Fiction" part of my blog description.  Writing is dear to me, especially this type.

The above is a recent collection of lines I wrote while on my way home a few weeks ago.  It's not fiction, because I really did see this girl who was sitting across from me, probably age 10-12, make a random, terrifying face that had me prepared for the worst - but because of the way it's written, it's not like my usual OS stuff. Hope you enjoyed it. 

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Wow, that was deep and profound. I noticed both in Paris and New York that the subways, or metros there is a sense of disconnect with other except every now and then.
Will you never cease to amaze me?
kids do very strange things
the last four lines are wonderful
Yes, the last four lines slayed. I love poetry that comes from that profoundicitis feeling.
If you have a seizure I will try to save you too etc.
Last 7 lines. I read them a few times - are very good and clinch the poem for me. Fernsy coins the funniest words.
Man, can you write!
Thanks for reading, everyone.

ocular - In the Subway, the disconnect is worse, mainly because a lot of us had/have memories of crazies and so it's best not to make eye contact. This is changing a little, I think, but still.... As for Paris, generally people look at each other and even flirt sometimes, but it's true that we still keep our distance.

Brassawe - I could say, and I often think, the same about you.

vanessa - so true. Thanks very much.

fernsy - Glad you liked the poem and that you'd try to save me if ever I had a seizure.

kate - thanks for the support.

Fusun - thanks for your thoughts on this.

mypsyche - I haven't seen you on OS in a while - hope all's well. Thanks for reading.

heidibeth - Right back at ya!
I agree with Kateasley about flexing your fiction muscles. There's a bitter sweet sadness here that I find appealing. I need to do some flexing myself, but fiction is SO MUCH harder :)
Thanks BB - Fiction is hard, but when you get into it, it's the loveliest feeling in the world. I say, go for it!
My cheekbones, two small shovels.

Those words resonate. I certainly got my euro's worth on this Metro ride.

If you ever get to Le Select, you'll see a man sketching customers on the sly. That's my friend Rick Tulka, the illo fellow. Don't say hello for me--he'll immediately put away his drawing pad. But you can see his work via Google & Flickr.