The boy at the far end of the train car kept looking behind him as if he were afraid or expecting someone and then she appeared in the glass door of the forward car and he rose and opened the door and let her in and she entered the car carrying a large black case in the unmistakable shape of a cello. She looked like an angel with a high forehead and somber eyes and her hair was tied up behind her neck with a black bow. And because of all that, he seemed a little awkward in his happiness to see her, whereas she was simply there, perfectly existing as a creature with a soft face who played the cello. And the reason I am writing this on the back of a manila envelope now that they have left the train together is to tell you that when she turned to lift the large, delicate cello onto the overhead rack, I saw him looking up at her and what she was doing the way the eyes of saints are painted when they are looking up at God when he is doing something remarkable, something that identifies him as God. Billy Collins is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. In 2016 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Wonderful introduction, and a wonderful timely poem. Thanks!