If we can just extend the Tube to the whole country, we wouldn't have these difficulties and I join with many in wishing the Underground a Happy 150th Birthday this week. Not even the Wombles would be overground today I fear. I always find the tube an inspiring method of travel as a poet. perhaps it's the close proximity we're forced to take to strangers and the frisson this creates. I love people watching and maybe it's the jumble of life stories that are represented by each person that you see. I sometimes play a game where I imagine the life, personality and current concerns of strangers on the tube: as if they appearance is an actual avatar that tells you their life story. Who they are, where they work, married, single, straight, gay, where are going right now. One day, I will be brave enough to pick someone at random and follow them to see if I'm right. NOT in a stalkerish way. In a brave, exploratory writery sort of a way.
Anyway, the tube has inspired a number of poems over the years and here's my latest one.
Keep writin' and recitin'
The Girl on the Jubilee Line.
It’s too early on the Jubilee line
and too many stations until mine.
The high voltage jolt of caffeine
from two hours ago
has dissipated like
A girl with caramel for skin sits opposite
losing her fight with wakefulness.
Eyes melt, head wavers
Like harvest-ready corn in the gentlest of breeze.
With hair corralled by an Alice Band
she gives herself to the gods of sleep.
I’m dozing too by now,
Subconsciously counting stops
instead of sheep when a savage,
panicking shudder jerks us awake.
The first thing we see
is the depth of each other’s eyes.
Her eyes ache to close again
which they do as
a warm, lazy smile crescents her lips.
We have shared a secret,
intimate as long-time friends
becoming one-time lovers.
Her breathing settles,
keeping rhythm with the universe;
wave in, wave out.
Later at Bond Street,
she scrums a path to the platform,
the last leg, I guess, of her job-bound journey.
An angular, scissor-faced womenwith damp bird-nest hair takes the spare seat.
She is all edges, petty stresses,
fuss and agitation and we do not connect at all.
I start to miss the girl
whose name I will never know.