You are pragmatic:
you understand the nature
of inevitability and don't struggle
against its burdens. And, so,
you let yourself sink
without flailing, out of the daylight
slide down, under, below,
along the glossy gullet
that leads into the roaring
belly of the leviathan.

Others, each responding to the impetus
of their own necessity, are caught
as you are. They shiver,
sweat and wheeze in the noxious air
that fills the rolling cavity.
Their faces, pale, dark, olive, tan,
stretch away from you like strung pearls
dangling into the distance
far beyond
the limits of your vision.

While one or another may curse
aloud as they stumble, unbalanced
by some abrupt lurch or twist,
nobody converses. Eyes slip away,
gliding off importunate glances
like slick weed off scales. They know
as you know, these others:
you are not companions; though
all travelers, you are not fellows,
only pearls on the same string,
smooth and expressionless, sharing
misery but no stories.

Your mind shrinks from this
press of strange bodies;
you cast it out to rise and
roam. Trapped as you
are, your mind strolls
in sunshine, browses
markets, touches a
pennyroyal plant in a
public garden and sheds
its fragrance on the breeze.

It is pulled back, rudely,
into your head, as the
beast screeches and shudders.
A halt, a jerk and you are
disgorged. You float
to the surface, the
greasy miasma still clinging
to your skin, Ambergris
washed up on
familiar shores.

It is not something you wish
to remember. A passage
of time and place you
could not avoid, while
your mind was out
playing. You let it
fade until, at a party,
you turn, scenting a perfume,
firmly fixed in your subconscious,
and ask: “Don't you travel on the
Jubilee Line, between
Southwark and
Finchley Road?”