Estranged from the subway

It’s been eleven weeks since last I took the subway, dived into the underground, and shared a common space with other travelers. I have not been seated next to strangers and the memories of beggars asking me for coins are dimming in the brightness of May’s unforgiving sun.

I do not miss public transportation, instead, I walk or drive my car or bike. Often most with the starting point and endpoint coinciding at home, the place of work, the place for sleep, my restaurant, and cinema.

I’ve made sourdough bread, and I believe I will master the technique of baking long before I have ceased to check pandemic numbers. I wonder when I and the subway will reconcile.

hymn of blackbirds
sieved through newborn foilage —
this evening sunlight

Piet Mondrian, ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43, moma.org

Kim hosts Haibun Monday at dVerse with a visual prompt today. The image (and its title made me think of a subway map, and I reflected on how much life has changed, the subway still runs but we have been asked not to use it so hospital workers and others can get space. Stay at home is still very much in place for me and my wife.

May 25, 2020

27 responses to “Estranged from the subway

  1. Captured these crazy times so beautifully! I have been learning to cook myself, never thought I’d be this good. The lockdown gave us time to introspect and appreciate the things we took for granted! Well written sir😁🙏

  2. As soon as I saw the title, I worked out what you’d written about, Björn, and I agree, Mondrian’s painting does look like a subway map! The way you describe your route is also like part of Mondrian’s painting: with the starting point and endpoint coinciding at home, the place of work, the place for sleep, my restaurant, and cinema.’ I like the way the memories of sitting next to strangers and being accosted by beggars are ‘dimming in the brightness of May’s unforgiving sun’. Walking and biking are so much healthier and better for the environment, and you get to listen to blackbirds’, plus homemade bread is so much tastier.

  3. Now as I look at it, it does remind me of our subway maps: green line, red line, orange line and blue line routes. Why didn’t I see that?? I especially love the haiku and this line “sieved through newborn foliage”….that is just an exceptional detailed descriptive phrase. They are saying the work place will never be the same after this Covid-19 siege. Many will continue to work from home….many jobs will disappear. What a different world we live in that 2019. A paradigm shift!

  4. Your write is no doubt the story of many whose lives have changed during this pandemic. I, too, was enchanted with the “sieved through newborn foliage” line. It’s wonderfully descriptive.

  5. OMG, we are all on the same track. The painting screamed subway map at me as well. Your haibun is strong and hopeful midst this turmoil and chaos. Your haiku is terrific, traditional and topical. 11 weeks and counting, for all of us.

  6. Going from the title, after reading your poem, it strikes me that rituals are like relationships, and for those who find comfort in them particularly so. I know the rituals I’ve lost have given me discomfort, and the ones I still have help ease the discomfort. Very thoughtful poem, Bjorn.

  7. OMG this is such a gorgeous haibun. Luv your language and images. I also thought of subway maps when I saw the image, but didn’t go with that thought

    happy Monday
    Much💟love

  8. They used to ask us what is the shortest distance between two places on earth. Now it is between home and work … home and the story… home and… no stops, do not pass go, go straight to jail (home)!
    Life above and below ground has definitely changed.

  9. blackbirds sieved through newborn foliage – oh ye, i can see them! We have funny black birds with wide boat tails, here in Texas. They fill the branches at twilight and carry on huge conversations!

  10. Yes I too am enjoying this slower way of life centered around the home and domestic things rather that battling the traffic. I think about all the clean air that we have produced by not clogging the highways 🙂

  11. What a wonderful slice of life from these current times. Your haiku at the end is powerful. These lines especially, “sieved through newborn foilage’
    I can see it when reading your words.

  12. Ah! Now I see that it can also look like a subway map! You have honestly described your feelings about public transport and this is such a clever line: “the memories of beggars asking me for coins are dimming in the brightness of May’s unforgiving sun.” The haiku caps it off beautifully.

  13. The routes we take are as simple or as complex as the thoughts we wrap around them, and our current situation certainly has given us much to think about.

  14. I can see the similarities between this and a map of the London underground now. (London underground just being the train map I’m most familiar with, which is still not saying much.)
    You’ve got me thinking with this one. I hadn’t thought much about those who rely on the kindness of commuters to survive day-to-day. I wonder how they are coping. What a stark contrast between our own worlds shrinking to revolve around something that they didn’t have to begin with.

  15. I used to ride the subway to work in the city of Boston many years ago. I don’t miss it. I made sourdough bread from a starter someone gave me a few years ago. I don’t know how to start it myself. Any suggestions? I can’t say I mastered it, but I love baking bread, baking anything!

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