Waiting – a poem

Waiting. We all do it, like it or not. Sometimes the waiting is tinged with celebratory anticipation, such as for the birth of a baby. Often it’s surrounded in heartache, with echoes of, “How long, Lord?” Sometimes it surrounds the mundane, such as being stuck in a stifling Tube carriage waiting to exhale.

What are you waiting for?

The sweat
I can feel
Down my back

I can do
Can’t dab it
Can’t swab it
Have to let it slide
Down my neck
And my back

I hold myself in
To make myself smaller

One arm above me
Clutching the handrail
The other hanging
Laden with bags

I suck in my breath
Counting the stops
Feeling the sweat

Closed in around me
To the left
To the right
In front of
And behind me

One tall and foreboding
One behind me, unseen
But pressing against me
In the crush
The mass of humanity
In this metal container

How long, I wonder
How long
The stops come
And they go
And finally
A few leave
At Green Park

Some space
To air out
To breathe
To exhale

And at last I exit
At last I leave
The final walk home
I suck in the air
London air
How fresh,
I know not
But sweet
To me

© 2016 by Amy Boucher Pye


This is part of the synchroblog on waiting, to celebrate the release of Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay by Tanya Marlow – out now. See more here and link up to the synchroblog here.

9 Responses

  1. I love this journey into the mind of a commuter on the Tube. I used to travel quite a lot by train, and I can totally relate! You’ve evoked the experience so aptly: the physical discomfort, the dehumanising force of the scene, the cramped conditions, the tension of not having arrived as soon as you’d have liked. And I love the ending! It’s true: even the less-than-fresh air can seem sweet when you’re (finally) almost home. (Linking from Tanya Marlow’s “Those Who Wait” synchroblog, post #3.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, that ‘fresh air’ feels so great when we can breathe deeply after an experience like that on the Tube. I’m so glad I no longer commute daily on it! And I take my hat off to those who do.

  2. This was so vivid! I could feel the claustrophobia, the crush. Thinking about it more abstractly, it really conveys the unbearable crush of waiting for years in an uncomfortable or painful place. I loved reading this.

    Thanks so much for linking up today!

    1. I love how you make the application to our spiritual life – how our creativity and hope and so on and so on can get crushed and squeezed in periods of waiting and longing. So often we think, oh, I’d so be enjoying this time if only I knew that in X months I’d find my partner/job/baby etc.

      Thanks for the fun synchroblog series!

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