I looked up from conjugating French verbs,
computers hooked up to people
ipads open like books
commuter and headphones.
One couple sat close - she was tapping out a report
he listened to the Brandenburg Concertos.
I could hear the harpsichord in his fine white hair
gently spiked and smelling of rainforests.
I knew all this even though I couldn't remember aimer
in all its tenses.
It wasn't him but the way he took off his headphones
when she read details
of her corporate news or the dirty jokes
she was emailing her brother.
It was the lines on his face, his hooded eyes
but more the way those long fingers played
notes up and down his blue jeans
as though each fingerprint was a vertebrae
he'd touched that dawn when everything harmonised.
Lean into me - the smell of coffee and ironing -
let me stretch out under the small rain
of your notes but they get out at the next stop
the harpsichord fades to a station announcement
and I begin to learn aimer, present subjunctive.
Catherine Bateson, 2012
I've been catching the train from Belgrave to the city lately. The train trip takes a little over an hour. I lived in the country for years and regularly caught the train to the city - but the suburban train line is different, even if the travelling time is the same. In the commuter country train the passengers often form groups and play cards. They catch up on the gossip. The conductor stops for a chat. The morning commute on a suburban train line is more than often a solitary journey which is why I noticed this couple.