I’ve thought about this several times, but never have written it down, best intentions though I had.

When we went to New York this summer, I noticed that all the subway cars had placards in the advertising racks above the heads of the passengers, provided by Barnes and Noble, titled “Poetry in Motion.”  They were a variety of poems and songs from all ages and sources, provided, I guess, as a humanizing goodwill and advertising effort by the bookstore.

One evening at twilight as we rode out for our second trip in as many days to catch the Staten Island ferry over and back again just for the fun of it, we had just taken our seats after a frantic move to the front of the train to make sure we didn’t get left behind as the train separated and sped off in two different directions.  Other than the four of us, there was only one girl, about 20 or so, sitting next to Hannah. She stole furtive sidelong looks at Hannah, perhaps remembering her childhood, her curiosity as a child, as Hannah surveyed the car and counted the stops to our destination.

Then Hannah noticed the “Poetry in Motion.”  It was “Always,” by Irving Berlin.  I told her that it was a song, then realized I remembered the tune and could sing it to her, which I did.  Hannah’s eyes stayed riveted to the song as I sang, watching every word, making sure that I didn’t miss anything, seeing if indeed I was making it up, or whether it really was a song.

“I’ll be loving you

always,
with a love that’s true…
always.
When the things you’ve planned
need a helping hand,
I will understand
always,
always.

Days may not be fair
always.
That’s when I’ll be there…
always.
Not for just an hour,
not for just a day,
not for just a year,
but always.

I’ll be loving you
always,
with a love that’s true…
always.
When the things you’ve planned
need a helping hand,
I will understand
always,
always.

Days may not be fair
always.
That’s when I’ll be there…
always.
Not for just an hour,
not for just a day,
not for just a year,
but always.

Not for just an hour,
not for just a day,
not for just a year,
but always.”

I noticed that the girl next to Hannah was watching the words on the placard as intently as Hannah, as if the bouncing ball were on the movie screen there.

As I finished Hannah looked at me, as if to say, “Yep, you got it right,” with a smile, and the girl next to her clenched her face into a love grimace and  pounded her heart once dramatically with her closed fist, not knowing I was watching, then tightly closed her eyes and sighed.  I think it was the best ovation I’ve ever gotten as a singer, and to think it was my New York debut on a noisy, hot subway.