The poignancy of Suzy Wong.
She lives in Birmingham, this single mother,
named Suzy Wong, waiting for a bus,
an insignificant life,
woven into the concrete conurbation,
in this post-modernist time,
and the bus is late, and she is stationed,
at the stop, concentrating,
on a Stephen King novel,
( the one about the evil clown that lives in the sewers ).
And it's late in the afternoon in Birmingham,
that time of day when infants are waking from naps
and office workers are looking at clocks.
Suzy Wong is nearly twenty-nine,
and her afternoon bus is never on time.
I am in the sprawl of London,
obscurely contemplating life
through cosmopolitan window panoramas,
thinking about the surfeit of poignancy
washing about out there on the streets,
muddled up in the miasma of countless dioramas.
And I get an image of Suzy Wong,
nothing sensational, just respectful,
mindful of what is there,
in Birmingham perhaps,
or maybe even anywhere.
Then this young man comes walking along,
i-pod swinging on a musical umbilical,
passes close to Suzy Wong,
and she notices, whilst reading and looking for the bus,
through powers of female peripheral vision,
that he gave her a second look,
a serious reality check, nothing trivial,
and she turns the page at a good part,
and far up the avenue
there is still no bus.
And she feels these are all parts of her own reality,
in just another Birmingham afternoon,
and she can decide which to deal with,
and when to choose.
And while reading she absently thinks
that not so many years ago,
that young guy would have looked back yet again.
But this is now, and that was then,
when she was a regular
three-look problem for many men.
She has an eight-year-old son called Joshua,
they've arranged to meet at four-thirty
outside the school gates,
he'll be waiting as usual,
the bus is always a little late,
his shoes are always a little dirty,
but he will smile widely
at the sight of his mother,
and as they walk home through late afternoon streets
they will giggle contentedly together,
and decide mutually on something nice for supper.
I feel respect for women such as Suzy Wong,
not untainted by powerful sentiment,
or by other peoples views
of how to live a life,
of what is right
and what is wrong.
And those feelings are important,
and can be experienced by anyone,
perhaps another writer,
in another grand metropolis,
might be imagining her right here and now.
And to achieve the effect of poignancy,
the sentiment has been and gone.
There is a warm breeze blowing up the avenue,
gently riffling Suzy Wong's back pages,
as the bus arrives
in a fuss of engine noise and well-oiled gears,
on this street in Birmingham,
in this brief urban afternoon,
Suzy folds the corner of the page,
thinking to herself
long days make even longer years.
She takes her poignancy with her,
gets on the bus,
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