Checking for blight
I met her first as  trainee potato inspector
for the County of Angus.
I heard she’d become executive
moved to The Capital,
must have met someone, made a choice
for here she is on the 73 bus
with baby slung on her chest
steering her toddler.
She’s lost alot of weight
through the Islington years
acquired contact lenses and confidence,
but something in the shade and style
of her check jacket
is still there like a birthmark.

She doesn’t notice me
and gets off at The Angel.

Busy bus this 73
the people curse the conductor
for restricting numbers,
the people curse anyway,
either unready for work,
their grey isolation
furrowing their faces….
or too ready by far and knotted
by the altered individual states they’re in.

I  wonder whether to  offer a seat
and if so to whom
and if so how to do it
without shedding too many drops
of this precious self-containment I was taught.
I stand up for an old man with a stick
then a young woman
I seem to recognise
stands up for me.

It takes time to register my new qualification
then I smile my thanks and sit,
amazed at all the people on this bus
that I used to think I knew.






















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