She sits, silver-haired respectability
savouring a special day; gently
swaying to the motion of the train.
Pipes snake along dirty brick walls,
a sliding mural of power and grime.

Familiar names – southbound;
plotted positions cleverly simplified
strap-hanger high, in turn
reveal themselves through smeary windows.

The hiss and clang of doors
release and renew the flow
of tangential lives in the
brief intimacy of strangers.

A man in singlet and jeans;
work-grubby and fatigued, snaps
the ring-pull and tilts his head to drink,
wiping the back of his hand across
his thirst-quenched lips.

Two children tumble through
the hiss of doors, scrambling
for a single seat. He moves along one,
responding amiably.

Opposite, the woman smiles;
flash-point of understanding
embracing the child-tolerant years.
He slants his head and winks;
returns to his beer.

© Marion Sharville

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