Friday, March 03, 2006

Orpheus on the Underground

This week, for various logistical reasons, I bought a weekly travelcard and have been commuting by public transport. As I crammed myself into the "self-herd" cattle truck that is the 08:12 Clapham Junction to Waterloo it reinforced why I prefer to cycle in.

I walk from Waterloo to Drury Lane which takes me down into the underpass by the IMAX where there is a poem on the wall passed by thousand of commuters every day. A fine poem it is too and a pleasure to read.

This week I finally Googled the poetess' name "Sue Hubbard" to discover the poem is titled Eurydice. Just knowing the name of the poem and the classical allusion implied therein added a whole new layer of meaning and appreciation for this work of art. A real "a-a-h!" moment.


I am not afraid as I descend,
step by step, leaving behind the salt wind
blowing up the corrugated river,

the damp city streets, their sodium glare
of rush-hour headlights pitted with pearls of rain;
for my eyes still reflect the half remembered moon.

Already your face recedes beneath the station clock,
a damp smudge among the shadows
mirrored in the train's wet glass,

will you forget me? Steel tracks lead you out
past cranes and crematoria,
boat yards and bike sheds, ruby shards

of roman glass and wolf-bone mummified in mud,
the rows of curtained windows like eyelids
heavy with sleep, to the city's green edge.

Now I stop my ears with wax, hold fast
the memory of the song you once whispered in my ear.
Its echoes tangle like briars in my thick hair.

You turned to look.
Second fly past like birds.
My hands grow cold. I am ice and cloud.

This path unravels.
Deep in hidden rooms filled with dust
and sour night-breath the lost city is sleeping.

Above the hurt sky is weeping,
soaked nightingales have ceased to sing.
Dusk has come early. I am drowning in blue.

I dream of a green garden
where the sun feathers my face
like your once eager kiss.

Soon, soon I will climb
from this blackened earth
into the diffident light.

Author: Sue Hubbard

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