Don’t Fall, Sister


Like so many things, it was fun in the beginning,
riding the subway to my first summer job, in midtown,
learning how to match my legs to the rolling of the train
as if I were on a ship, how to hold the pole just right,
not too high, not too low.

After the stroke, riding the subway was not easy,
but I had to get from Brooklyn to my job in Manhattan,
and every New Yorker knows the bus is too slow.
Not easy, letting two trains go by before I could squeeze
in. Once I got caught in the door, which closed faster
than I could move.

Yet there was a joy to it, being part of the great
moving mass: a mother from Latin America with long
braids, next to an African woman brilliant as a bird
in a colorful headdress, cheek by jowl with a young
Hasidic woman with a double stroller and tired eyes,
drag queen sitting next to a clean-cut Midwesterner.

And the music, don’t forget the music, hollow pipes,
played by diminutive Peruvian men, saxophone solos;
break-dancers who somersaulted through the moving
train; the barbershop quartet that, as I lurched trying
to hand them a dollar, sang “Don’t fall, sister, don’t fall.”


After a long career as a lawyer, Dana Robbins obtained an MFA from the Stonecoast Writers Program of the University of Southern Maine. Her work received first prize in the Musehouse Poem of Hope Contest and third prize in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for Jewish Poetry in 2018.

Annika Connor is an artist, SAG-AFTRA actor, and screenwriter. She studied Painting and Performance at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Connor uses strong symbolism, passionate imagery, and/or humor to ignite the imagination, and employs precision, detail, and allegory to show art that’s narrative and mysterious.