Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Urban poetry

 The metro station is familiar territory but it is cold and impersonal. It’s all shining steel, hard stone and bright lights. It is also arms, legs, heads, hair, skin, breath and sweat. But it is here that some fleeting moments of sheer beauty are created by chance. Right here, in the spaces between bodies, stone and metal.

Walking into this cavernous underground labyrinth stuffed full of flesh and things, I am drawn to this couple. Their hands are moving, but their mouths only just. It’s as if someone filtered out all the noise and what is left is pure communication – stretched mesmerizingly thin around them like the rainbow-surface of a soap bubble. And in this bubble around them the space seems to expand with each gesture-for-word. Theirs, I realize, is a silence, which in the absence of words is more than just a lack of sound. It’s an abundance of calm. They talk without speaking. And all around them are words being spoken, yet nothing is being said.

And then there is me.

Smiling like a fool, overjoyed at this urban poetry being written a few hundred feet under the earth, set to music by trundling trains of gleaming silver.

So what is it about a mundane metro commute and two people talking to each other in sign language, that is so unspeakably poetic? It’s like a missed heartbeat in the racing pulse of life in the city. Exhilarating, this precious pause.