Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
—Elizabeth Bishop, “Questions of Travel”
So crowded here, Grand Central Terminal, people pouring
along the greatest number of train platforms in the world
(with a secret platform to whisk a President with polio
to the Waldorf-Astoria) to the Main Concourse, swirling
round the stones of tourists—moved unsurely by the rush—
dividing in intelligent streams into various passageways,
as if separated by an industrious chemist, Mercury perhaps.
So different from the one station in Singapore (one station!)
where on the walls rice is planted, rubber tapped, tin mined,
activities that happened, is happening, elsewhere, not there,
and on the platform waiting for the train I watched the grass
between the railway ties, burn, between the broken stones,
imagined miles of railway tracks crisscrossing everywhere
and stones rising to wing the helm of travel’s cathedral.
Now I am here, not brought by dream, but by engineering,
my eyes recording images my mind will work on later,
my body filling up with energy from bodies in friction,
and though tempted to disavow the broken ties of home
I look back at the kitsch with kinder feelings, learn to look
for Singapore in train timetables, at the information booth
with the fourfaced clock, each face a trembling molten opal.