Of Human Loneliness

Anna Evans

Als das Kind, Kind war, the child knows
There are many solitudes, but as he grows
They merge into one paper read on a train,
Rustling through the silence and the evening rain.

Despite the commuters desperate retreat
Their elbows, thighs and briefcases meet.
Yet that hard girl with the urchin cut
And the scarlet suit is anywhere but
There, as the forest closes in, alive, black,
Howlings and rattlings behind her back.
If there were a place for her, a place to sit
And read Cosmopolitan and be cocooned by it,
She'd have no need to listen to the rain
Or die of jungle fever in a rush hour train.

A man sitting down, wearing striped shirt and braces
Funnily enough, doesn't offer to change places.
He's thinking of his lover who's gone back into jeans
And returned his credit cards. Don't ask him what it means.
He only knows the flat seems bigger now that she's gone.
She took her books but left the TV so he turns it on.

Old woman clutching shopping bag to wrinkled knee
Looks forward to the bread and jam she's having for her tea.
Her only son, in Surrey, wouldn't think to telephone.
She's got her cat, and anyway, he is just as alone.
On quiet Winter nights he sometimes gets bored
He talks to his wife, who, used to being ignored
Gets nervous and goes to finish off the chocolate cake
And biscuits. These days she can't seem to make
Herself stop, but she knows how to make herself sick.
When her husband goes off down to the pub for a quick
One, he sees the train flash past then stares into space,
Feels suddenly old, and knows he hates this place.

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