Night Bus

Evening buses are strange, liminal spaces.
Every energy is to be found there –
Half a dozen quiet, late commuters
Meditating on their Spotify playlists;
Errant families forming phalanxes of buggies,
Parents on the wings as all-protective shepherds,
And the night out crew of clubbers
Making their way into town,
Their spirit-tinted laughter fogging windows.

Weirdly wired, yet all akin in tiredness,
We sail through the night
Until at once the multi-coloured
Neon medley down below gives way
And on the starboard side comes sailing
Another bus in mirror-voyage,
It’s upstairs space a second crammed-in cosmos.

We sweep on by, lights a-flashing,
Two ships in the night, so close
I wish to reach across to tap their windows
And ask them of their stories,
And what tall tales they bring
From far-flung Piccadilly,
And tell in turn my own.

I allow the thought to seize me and
So pass, settle in my seat,
Then turn to see the faces
Little kids are drawing in the condensation.

It’s a weird and constant comfort to me
That as long as there are
Young ones out on chilly nights,
Despite passengers inside
Keeping expressions blank and closed
Buses will go down Oxford Road
With smiles in their windows.

Artwork by Katie May.

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