Freedom! he expounds, if I read the Bible
Freedom! he announces, if I go to church
I, more intent in finding a seat, slough off
his pronouncements, but others
who have been listening a while
eye the grimy floor.
The woman across from me cradles
two children, protecting them from his rant
the woman next to me distracts her daughter
with photographs on her iPhone.
Someday, he shifts topic, Someday there
will be no food, you will eat your children!
An uneasy glance passes between the mothers
but I cannot control the guffaw
that slides from my throat into the defiled air
I stifle my giggle, but the more I try to stifle
the more I laugh. The mother across from me
is smiling and the mother next to me is grinning
and then all three mothers are laughing
at the preposterous notion of eating our children.
It's not long before the subway preacher
leaves our car for the next.
I have done my job, laughing
in the face of grim forecasts,
laughing so the children
will learn to laugh.
Mimi Moriarty is a poet living in a log home overlooking the Hudson Valley of New York. She has two chapbooks published by Finishing Line Press: War Psalm, which came out in 2007, and Sibling Reverie, co-authored with her brother, Frank Desiderio, published in the spring of 2012. A third chapbook, Crows Calling, will be published by Foothills Press in 2013.