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97 Bus - Ipswich to Shotley

A description of a journey frequently made on what used to be the 97 bus route. From ‘Suffolk Poems’

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97 Bus - Ipswich to Shotley

Bouncing, bumping, swaying, the bus winds out
of the city centre and, as one returning home,
I feel a heaviness lift from my shoulders
as the picture of a cup of tea and television
gets clearer with every bend of the road.

High streets turn to housing estates
as pastel skies ebb away in darkness.
The street lights appear like urban fireflies
drawn in droves to the heat of engines.

In the warmth blasted from radiators
my mind falls in to the march of pistons,
dozing until we stop with a screech
and the straining of systems, the doors
bang open to let on a stranger.

Fleshy palms grasp the hand-rail, followed
by a grizzly face and a buckled body
which climbs the steps so hesitantly
that, as I start awake, I am touched.

I imagine that when he was young
he may have sat where I now sit, and risen
where I now rise. He may have shouted
with the same clear voice at some passing friend
and jumped off with a spring in his untroubled step.


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