I had to switch trains in Newark. The train to the city left from the same track, and the platform was pretty full with commuting traffic already. There was an unsupervised group of teenaged kids with backpacks on the platform as well, chatting and laughing, and I kept in their vicinity and tried to blend in. A girl with a blue sweater eyed me curiously. We were separated while squeezing into the already full train to New York Penn Station. I got pushed against a window in the foyer and found a rail to hold on. People still wore their morning faces and it was surprisingly quiet on the train considered how many people were sharing the ride. I heard the kids from the platform somewhere in one of the adjoining cars but I couldn’t see them. As we were pulling out of the station I stared out of the window again.
Morning sun was reflecting brightly off the water on the marshes of the meadowlands. Though part toxic industrial wasteland the marshes were home to countless species of birds. I loved this stretch of the commute to the city, the skeleton bridges’ dark structure against the luminous sky, silver glitter on tidal pools of water, herons fishing in dioxin contaminated estuaries, abandoned cars driven into the muck, parked utility trucks on well maintained dirt roads leading into nowhere, fast moving toy sized cars on elevated highways on the horizon, discarded metal scraps sticking out of the reeds like letters of a forgotten language, the wind caressing the rushes causing water like ripples, overhead electrical wires, seagulls circling in the lower skies, high voltage station feeding the catenary, finally the silhouette of the city and the new world trade center towers still rising in construction in the distance. Every time I was on the train I felt that the progression of scenes outside the window was like a silent movie on a screen of stray light. The meadowlands were beautiful, but against the lure of the silver light I remained aware that it was a poisonous landscape. I wondered how the herons survived here. I wondered if eventually our whole word would look like this.

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