No Ladies First

underground

No ladies first in this diurnal rush,
Like insects, we swarm to red circles,
Each for himself, thrusting, fighting,
Down, onto crowded dim platforms,
Pushing ourselves into gaping monsters,
To stand, or sit, lonely sentinels.
Lives brought momentarily together.
Here, a pair enjoy hints of each other,
Indicating by eye and movement,
Promises of love’s naked intimacy.
But most, eyes behind unseeing stares,
Rocked and stultified in accustomed whir,
Succumb together to soporific swing.
Suddenly, deadened senses jar into recognition,
Sleepy eyes refocus,
We push and shove out of that airless thing,
To join the busy crowd surging upwards,
And fumbling for forgotten tickets,
We heave sighs of relief to emerge into daylight,
And recapture our humanity.

© Copyright, 9/18/16 Jane Stansfeld

8 thoughts on “No Ladies First

  1. Since leaving the corporate world and with a bit more time, I chose the MRT (your tube equivalent) to driving. Quite enjoy it really – great opportunity for people watching – and all their antics. Hilarious. Irritating. Even boring.

    Until a few weeks ago, a seat came vacant and a young lady tapped my shoulder and said, “Uncle, would you like this seat?”

    Uncle is a term we use in Singapore to address – a polite address – old people.

    Sigh! 🙂

    • I emphasize with your reaction, but oh how I often need that seat! It is good that some chivalry still exits! Of course in that daily London rush hour crush few sit, most are help up by the crush,

  2. Ah, those were the days! Living like rats in our subterranean tunnels and popping out betimes onto acres of grey sidings and cold rain! Love London, I? Not! But an evocative poem, Jane – it brings some memories back. I used to enjoy the underground, really – all those mysterious faces lost in their own thoughts…

    • The underground is OK when you can SEE all those mysterious faces lost in their own thoughts although nowadays they are all glued to their phones either talking, or, most often, texting. However when you are all crammed together so that one can only see the face of the adjacent body it is NOT fun. We are in accord!

  3. Oh, wow, Jane….you have quite exquisitely captured that experience…. though I have loved many things about living in a city, this makes me glad I don’t live in the city anymore….

    • I agree. The London Underground is awesome and efficient but that rush hour squeeze is not fun. The great side effect to the efficient London public transport and to the fees charged to cars in the City is that the streets of today are relatively uncongested. The pedestrian can enjoy walking to all the lovely urban attractions such as museums. Yes, a big city is a mixed blessing!

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