The Announced

They are all across London,

solemn in not quite warm enough,

not quite rainproof raincoats,

going down

the escalators, standing

obediently on the right, not hurrying.

Or they wait

at the far end of the platform, bent like herons

over the track, the one mouse scuttling

between the rails, the now illegible

scraps of the freebie papers. Some

pace up and down, impatient for the moment


which will terminate here. Soon

they’ll be stripped of even

that vital sign, a verb: due to a person.

It is what they always

aspired to, the state of harmlessness,

to be no longer responsible for holding

the grey sky on their shoulders to stop it crushing


beauty out of the city. They become

(in November, daily) an inconvenience:

At the present time, all trains

are non-stopping at Oxford Circus,


and live for forty years in the night vision

of the driver, the last

being to see them tremble, the aghast

unblinking eyes above the ballooning headlamps.