The Sunday Night Commute from Bucharest to London

by Maggie Butt

The airport security queue moves efficiently
as burly men swiftly remove their coats,
belts, watches, shoes; routine as a morning shave.

They hunch in silent groups at the gate
not hung-over like returning stags
but gathering themselves for another wifeless week

closing the part of their minds
where children bounce and chatter
where mothers pray for them in acapelo hymns

where wives wrap tender cabbage leaves
where soup’s as sour as this unnatural life;
closing all that quietly, like shutting a child’s bedroom door.

Opening only the part of themselves
they can afford to spend on muscle and sweat
the cheap hostel, fast food and overpriced beer,

flying towards a muteness of men
hourly paid and hourly costed
flying into the love-shorn streets of the working week.