Mile End Opera

The man with whiskers of ponytail hair
growing out of the back of his shaved skull,
the woman with the Anna Ford face,
catacombed under London with other strangers.
Cornered, like prison visitors.
Swaying with the machinery.
Also a boy and girl – he’s black, she’s white.

Beautiful black and white.
He’s telling her about his college courses.
Things he likes. She telling him about her.
They are directing such smiles at each other
every one is a hit,
so that everyone in this carriage seems happier
A shade less absent. People are listening.

Even Anna Ford is feeling distinct.
Even the shaved/unshaved head is alert.
This girl’s voice is luminous with this boy.
Whatever she’s saying to him she can’t stop.
Just listening, just looking at her
is becoming something phenomenal to him.
And, if she’s seen that smile – which she has –

she must know what the audience also knows –
that it’s real, that these two are somehow
going to get off at the same stop,
that they’ve only just met but … what the hell …
This is it! Though they don’t know it
we’re all shouting for them, leaning towards them,
giving them space, swaying together,

silently wishing them things which in ourselves
we never knew,
or once or twice have known.
‘This is it. Do it. Go for it’,
punching the air for them in a whole Yes!
The train stops, he gets up, goes, he’s gone.
She sits staring into the walls of London .