To 33-year-old physician Adam Possner, the daily trip from Twinbrook to Foggy Bottom (and back) isn’t just a commute; it’s poetry in motion. The simple process of walking a block, boarding a train, switching lines and then arriving at work has enchanted Possner, who moved here from Baltimore five months ago.
“I love the Metro,” declares the Louisville, Ky., native, who’s never before been able to depend on public transportation.
Possner is so impressed with the system he immortalized it in an ode. “Subway Religion” is not his first stab at poetry, but it’s a departure from Possner’s other works, which are typically inspired by his day job and have appeared in various medical journals. “This was something that just came to me,” he says.
From his first trip, Possner was enraptured by the soaring, cathedral-like interiors of D.C.’s Metro stations. Passengers’ behavior reinforced this sense of the sacred.
“When you’re on the train, everyone’s sitting in these seats that are lined up like pews, and they’re so solemn and silent,” he says. “It’s almost as though they’re praying.”
By Adam Possner
Under a high vaulted ceiling
in somber light
hundreds of people wait
as if outside St. Peter’s on Christmas night.
Of every race and creed
rich and poor
they await the appearance
of that sacred door.
Finally, with a burst of wind and noise
the time arrives.
an invisible female usher chimes.
From the dark open space
the crowd quickly moves
into a fluorescent sanctuary
with oily windows and vinyl pews.
They settle into seats
or move to the center of the room.
15 seconds later — “Doors closing”
and the service resumes.
The ritual is essentially the same
seven days a week
a conductor speaks in tongues
amid a moving cacophony.
Meanwhile, swaying and bobbing
each congregant does his or her own thing
usually sleeping or reading
or listening to music or texting.
The doctrine is simple
easy for anyone to follow
pass through the collection gate
and foreswear anything you can swallow.
Welcome to the Subway Religion
where more than peace or love
what matters most in life
is getting to that place up above.
Art by Ben Claassen III for Express