ON THE NORTHERN LINE
On the northern line last night
I chanced upon the strangest sight
as I took my usual seat
in the clammy noisy heat.
A man sat opposite a little along
just staring at an absent throng
for the carriage was empty apart from myself
and he was perfectly still.
His coat was heavy and dark as night
with his feet together as if held tight,
and as we drew up to Mornington Crescent
I broke a silence so strangely unpleasant,
remarked how dimly the carriage was lit
but he simply stared on as if in a fit,
and there on his face I noticed a mark
and he was unnaturally still.
A small red stain quite round I saw
the edges just a little raw,
and as the carriage gathered pace
my troubled heart began to race
so unsettling was the sight
in the recesses of the night
the tunnel like the road to hell
and he was very still.
Then as the train went round a bend
he simply seemed to calmly blend
into the background of the seat
the pattern merging in the heat.
I stiffly sat within the tomb
or so it felt within the gloom,
my brain rejecting the apparition
of the passenger on a ghastly mission.
Then unannounced, his head began
to slowly turn, my eyes to scan
and then that stain began to spread -
I sensed the presence of the dead.
As the train began to slow
and Camden Town began to show
I forced myself to slowly rise
and his face was desperately still.
On the platform's endless yaw
I stayed quite still right to the core
and watched that seat that hurtled past -
saw the gap freed up at last
that carried my memory like a sign
that endless night on the northern line.