Busman’s Honeymoon*

A bus passes by

It isn’t mine

The third bus flashing past

 So far this morning.
And remembering the day

When I waited forty minutes

And no bus came

I hope today isn’t 

That day again.

Cars rush past me

As I wait at the stop,

Vans and bikes.

My bus still 

Not yet in sight.
And then I spy it

And climb aboard.

Sitting on the top deck

Window in front of me

Seats behind me.

A pair of young men 

Talking in Bulgarian, I think

You get all sorts 

In the bus melting-pot.
Heavy thuds as someone alights:

Climb clomp clomp

Of boots down the stairs.
The bearded Bulgarians whisper –

Wonder where they’re going

“This bus is on diversion” 

The tannoy announces.
Voices raised in murmured protest

For we need to go 

Where we need to be.
Bus routes snake across the city –

Drawn in different coloured ink 

On the surface of her maps –

The long-established bus trajectories.
“Fortune green road” 

The announcer says.
The bus screeches to a halt

At a red light,

Rumbles.  Air expelled 

From tyres as it brakes.

The bus drops towards the ground,

Then rises to move again –

Rumble, rattle, squeak

The ancient sounds of motion.

Watching the city beneath me

As we traverse her.

We pass St Andrew’s Church –

Sandstone I think – yellow, gothic

Green copper-covered steeple 

Pointing towards heaven.
Stopping again, 

Heavy doors puff open

Then close, the bus wobbles

And rumbles down the tarmac

Heavy, insistent –

Treading the well-worn lines

Traced over the city

By generations of its ancestors.
And before them, trams:

The ghosts of tram wires

Appear in the sky

As I look up.
For thousands of years 

People have moved about my city

Before trams: horses, traps, flies

And before that even

Shanks pony: walking across 

The spaces between

Medieval hamlets, villages.

Crossing fields 

Long before this vast conurbation

Came into being.
The traffic’s slow today –

A line of red stop lights 

On cars before us.

The bus crawls down the road:

Rumble, squeak.
I’m running late 

Of course –

Bad tummy.
But this poem 

Is not about that.

It’s about buses, travel

Traversing the city

And the past which marks her

As it marks us all:


We are the slaves of history.
Happy Monday everyone!
*1937.  By Dorothy L. Sayers.  The eleventh Lord Peter Wimsey novel.  Murder mystery.  Golden age detective fiction novel.

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