Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Chuo Line

This is the morning rush hour
On the Chuo rapid to Tokyo,
Men are holding their jackets or
Have folded them over their satchels
In their lap and gone to sleep;
Women are not far behind.

As the hot air from the radiator
Warm their thighs and bottoms
Some women lose their modesty and
Go to sleep with bedroom abandon;
Men reading folded newspapers
Take an occasional peep.

Squat houses whiz by outside,
Bicycle stands appear and disappear;
An entire metropolitan geography opens
In the somewhat muggy morning
Made muggier by packed commuters
And sudden lurches and jerks.

High school girls in sailor uniforms
In triple folded skirts at the waist
Show their pudgy cream thighs
As they stand eating breakfast,
While boys push down their trousers
Holding them by their buttocks.

There is pin drop silence except
For the periodic cackle of the PA system,
Or the hydraulic hiss of
Opening and closing doors.
Stations arrive and go by
As if in a fantasy or a dream.

The train whistles by with
So much of self involvement,
An occasional foreigner like me
Tries to behave as any other local
But what a waste of effort:
They eye me furtively when I doze.

February 2006, Hachioji

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