They never look up, and up,
I wonder what they’re so afraid of
As they stare down at their screens
The latest hot episode, the driest
Financial report, as they grasp at their
Newspapers as if they were barriers
That could keep the outside world out.

They never look up, and up,
Their eyes are hemmed in facing downwards
As if sharing a glance would lead
To some kind of epidemic of humanity
How strange, how perverse, that down
Here they cannot let the living of life in
Tinned, crammed together, they must
Keep their silence and forget how their
Hearts are capable of something far
More valuable than shunning.

They never look up, and up,
In here we are trapped in a never-ending
Mime, a blank distant rhyme,
Just getting through, to work, and home
Again, there is no need to speak, no need
To feel, because if they were to speak,
And to feel, they would acknowledge
The vastness of this city, the endless
Rambling of so many emotions, limitless
Pains and needs and wishes, rattling around
Down upon the underground.

Sometimes I look up, and catch
A stranger’s eye, and I turn away
As if scalded, I can’t pretend to be any better
Than they, because in the stranger’s
Eye there is some familiar pain
How wearisome it is be alive
And I understand, why, then it is easier
To devour the new bestseller
To maraud through the free newspaper,
Then to risk a glimpse into the mirror
The shiny other side of the lives
We would keep private, and at home,
And I can here a slimy voice whispering
As the tube continues scrabbling, jolting
Every bend, don’t look up, don’t look up,
I beg you, otherwise you’ll turn to stone.


Rose Staveley-Wadham