Friday, October 01, 2004

The Commute 

Pedalling, rolling,
immersed in space,
connected to land, to air, to sky,
connection affirmed by intimate touch of wind and water,
free to move unhindered, to choose my path,
I could pedal on for ever
(until perhaps I reached the sea).
An invisible line snakes through the air
unhindered by any barrier
joining me to any and every place in this land
wherever I choose to imagine.

Free, yet contained within a need to concentrate;
to limit thoughts to the road beneath my wheels,
watching for the inattentive drivers
whose distraction, or tiredness, or misjudgement, or downright maliciousness
threatens to annihilate.
Mind divided,
one part listening, watching, constantly alert to the survival instinct,
one part driving the muscles that propel and balance and swerve and power ahead,
one part cracking the whip, never relaxing the pressure for speed;
just the tiniest space left for a fleeting thought, glimpsed and then lost,
left behind, a casualty of the journey
lying on the road somewhere over my shoulder.
Enclosed within a shell of focus that might as well be a steel box.

Or, sitting shoulder to shoulder within a real metal box,
packed tight into a tiny airless moving prison,
carried by iron wheels that shuffle back and forth on fixed iron pathways,
squeezed into the constricting confines of buried underground passageways.
Contained by time and place outside my will,
at the mercy of fickle timetables, engineering works, leaves on the lines, the Wrong Kind Of Snow*,

Yet this physical confinement grants freedom also:
mind, this time, is free to roam
rising, expanding, floating, spiralling upwards and outwards,
past city, past coast, beyond atmosphere, beyond stars…
Or delving deep within,
the shell of air and metal far, far distant at the outer edges of awareness.
Only for a few brief moments here and there does awareness need to shrink
or to expand
to match for a while the contour of prison walls,
to allow the transition to another box;
to descend from mountain into bustling valley
before the solitude of next empty slope ahead beckons up and away…

Which prison shall I choose today?
Or which freedom?
Body, or mind?

*something that may only have meaning for UK commuters!!

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