Without Us

The shiny wooden floor is unusually clean for a Tuesday afternoon.
No dropped broccoli nor puddles of custard decorate its surface.
All the folding tables are lined up along the edges of the room
Like soldiers in the trenches waiting for the command.

Outside the only whistle to be heard is that of the wind as it rocks
A childless swing higher, higher, higher… Nobody
Swarms the dusty climbing frame nor stomps across its bridge to escape
The fire; it is like a tree with no leaves or a book with no words.

Across the road, in the park, a lone jogger swerves around
A man and his dog, repelled by their magnetic field.
The benches that border the concrete paths unwelcome you
With red and white striped tape stretched between their arms.

The market is an empty tunnel of metallic shutters;
You cannot hear the hum of money-spenders
Enticed by curries infused with cumin, beneath the eager barks
Of market-sellers jumping up and down to fight the cold.

And beneath this tunnel lie those famous London tunnels that shriek
Forever as bullet-shaped people-carriers shoot through them.
Only now their shrieks have been quietened to an occasional shout;
Drained of all energy they are slowly giving up hope of being heard.

Over the Channel, that framed enchantress, seemingly unobtrusive
Yet impossible to ignore, awaits the attention she has become accustomed to.
She feigns nonchalance as no eyes meet her gaze,
Maintains poise, but no pencil, phone or lens is raised.

In Rome you can hear, for the first time in centuries, the trumpet of the conch
At Trevi Fountain. No longer must it compete with the splashing
Of wished-upon coins or the struggle of a hundred guides.
And you can hear the carpet of water as it slips from beneath the feet of Oceanus.

Further East the white tiles of the Grand Mosque shine brighter than ever,
Like an ice-rink in summer, and, like an ice-rink in summer,
Chilled only by the absence of body heat,
It waits for the turn of the season.


By Meena Sears (L1) 




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