Shoulder to Shoulder – a poem

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(image by Pixabay)

I wrote this piece for the 12 Poems Challenge. The prompt: Gender.

Standing room only

Trying not to touch

Each other

Males, females, thrown together.

Eyes averted, looking out

The smeared window

At the grubby tracks,

The milky morning.

Air thick with impatience

Running late; a signal failure

Loud apology on the PA.

Miasma of footwear

A shoelace undone

Imagined herself taller

Looking over the crowd

Clear of morning breath

And faces not seeing.

Entering a tunnel

She closed her eyes

Saw people crossing streets

Above her head

Cars and buses honking.

Tried not to think of a great uncle

Shunted to a darker time

With each turn of the wheel.

Glimpses of dry fields

Through gaps in the carriage

As he braced shoulder to shoulder

With the dead and dying.

The weekend before,

He’d been playing chess

And writing a book.

Women and children

Separated on boarding

Never saw his wife again.

The scent of Chanel

As the train swerved

Surrounded by suits

She whispered a prayer

of thanks.

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