Friday, April 25, 2008

When the tubetrain fills, the people, jammed tessellate, shift into the unfilled air. But some the fullclothed crush repels. They wait. For another train, with other spaces more their size. Fearing the face-in-armpit intimacy of overweight strangers.

The train rumbles off. Those left behind do not move away, because they know where other doors will be. They stand, with their music, or newspapers. Or else stare, bored, at the advert on the other side of the tracks - a picture that they’ve seen every morning for a month. The picture of the girl drinking the coffee. Fancy coffee. Tiny cup. A picture I cannot stand. Hennaswirling facepaint combines with the dust and grime of the underground: The postersize girl looks beaten and bruised, the sexy smirk on her face twisted into something other; bitterness and brittle toughness, the eye contact disquieting. I look at my feet.

Some mornings I’m spared her stare. I reach the platform just before another train. Those left behind by the last are still standing there under her eyes, in scattered little bunches, remnants of the crowd. Burialmounds of halfmelted snowmen in green fields.