In the metro
The flash of a mirror. As in a miniature aquarium,
there float up eyes, brows, a predatory mouth.
In the crush, amid the shoving, with steady hand a girl
draws a line on her eyelid, paints her lashes.
The day is warm. An ageing couple, intent and silent,
with a skinny grandson wrapped up to his ears.
In an almost empty carriage they’re standing by the door
as if due to get out in a moment. But they travel onwards.
They’re playing pat-a-cake. Brother and sister? The boy’s dainty palms
go splat against the palms of a trendily dressed young lady,
who’s sexy from her wedges to her sunshades.
She’s laughing. Joy unbounded. For now she’s back in childhood.
An early December evening. Carried by the journey’s rhythm
the faces in the metro cast off their scowls and disguises,
sink back into themselves, and loosen up like handwriting
that’s harder and harder to read the more is written.
© translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones