As nighttime and daylight adjoin in friction.
Buses interrupt as I squint for my number;
Balanced and hovering on the kerb’s edge
In front of staring commuters like a set
Of unglazed statuettes, wide-eyed and empty.
The bus pulls up and as always not empty:
Bursting at both ends like an overfilled hour-
Glass. Doors open and close, passengers set
To go, but eyeing each other with palpable friction.
With each turn and jerk the people edge
Back to equilibrium. Without name, without number,
In this cattle train – turn down, be number,
Desensitise, pour hope out empty;
Ignore the jostles or be pushed over the edge.
On the 113, seconds like minutes, minutes like hours,
More bodies like atoms increase the friction
And the bus starts to sweat – windows are set
With droplets of water. The bus’ course set
For the pale white offices, where number-
Less hordes sit in cubicles constricted,
For work that is meaningless and empty.
Punch-in and wait frustrated for the punch-out hour:
No wonder so many end up on the ledge.
There’s nothing else to do as the bus starts to edge
Forward but observe the young workers who sit
Without moving for old standers, who for hours,
Incalculable hours, have accepted they’re no longer number
One in this city of self, of missing deeds and empty
Words – an entire people in a constant state of friction.
No-one speaks on board, just project a silent friction.
Nearing my stop, I balance on the step’s edge –
The bus shudders stop; compressed air empties;
Alighters and boarders – on your marks, get set…
Suddenly the doors open and the number
Mix violently – this space is mine, mine, not ‘ours’.
Every day, every hour, numberless people set
In a position of permanent friction.
Edging forwards in their empty lives.