Isha Wagner
New Zealand
Waiting For The Train

He's walking towards me
(as the cold sweeps the station)
As if he knows me.
He looks eighteen ,with an impudent grin.
Smiling as I sit trying to keep warm,

Awaiting to go from nowhere to nowhere.

He wants to talk,
I'm fourteen he says proudly.
Rolling a cigarette.
You seem older, I say.
Looking at his blond,
straggling, unwashed hair.
Lanky frame.
His stare fixed on me, perhaps
He wants to know what I know,
But do I want to know what he knows?

My mother is dying,
My father is ill and out of work.
His voice is loud, sharp.
Somehow I don't believe him.
May the universe look after you,
I say in my missionary tone.

Hey, what's the universe?

Sitting still, I shiver,
Making no response.

Train Arrives.

When You Meet A Woman

Don't believe when you see a woman
That she is alone, this is your illusion.

She is always accompanied by her image,
Surveying herself without cease.

How she walks, talks,
Her gestures, her opinions,
Expressions, shall I smile or frown,
Perhaps a little sad?
On this occasion she mentally inquires
Of herself.

Lip gloss, mascara and streaks
Of gold in her hair.
Must convey,
The picture in her mind of a real woman,
Not a fake.
Unceasingly busy,
Busy to create the other.

Fearful always, you will percieve the real her.
So if you want to get on
and you are a man liking what you see,
Relate to the image she projects.

She will turn away quickly, if she
suspects you have glimpsed
her own inner self and can see
what she thinks to be her ugliness.

Remember, she is always accompanied by
the other.

The Moslem Woman On The Train

Dressed all over in crimson and black
Draperies covering everything
Except the dark, tremulous face
She asks for a certain station
I say soon
She smiles nervously: I envy
Her beautiful fat lips
But not the large gleaming teeth
Black eyes as of a bird
Expecting a predator to devour

She looks so precious somehow
As if guarding her femininity
As if it is something not ubiquitous
Not liking when I or the guard
Look into her anxious face

I sit in my blue jeans and boots
A scanty top covers my breasts
Feeling natural: I am what I am

From Afganistan, she says
When I ask
How long in New Zealand?
Oh six years
She smiles so demurely
With a look that says she is more priceless
Than emeralds or rubies
Why you would think she's just landed;
An astronaut on the moon
In a new but hostile world

She looks after her modesty alright
I am annoyed with myself
For the way she irritates me
She has the right to be what she is

My femininity is on show
Is it less precious than hers?
I do not think so