La Metro di Roma

La Metro di Roma

A Story by Luna

an extended haibun analysing Rome's busy metro


Sliding doors and eyes close as the black and brown rusty wheels screech under the colossal sheets of dark iron ores. Blank faces stare into empty liquid crystals which light them up in artificial beams. Strings of plastic and wires are plugged into their ears, isolating, secluding them from their eerie surroundings, allowing them to see the music though their hollow eyes. Some have no strings though- and a small girl, around the age of three times two, admires them in awe, drooling before the desire of materialism they enclose. The old lady to her left suddenly wakes up from what seemed like an hours-long doze, adjusts her gold-framed glasses and grabs her by the hand; the wrinkles on her fingers gently tingling the softness of that young grip. The girl now looks away from those pale gizmos of silicone and copper, smiling to the woman and sitting amply on her lap. Soon, she’s up again and pointing to the cityscape confined behind thick layers of dusty glass, stained by coffee, paint and tears. The sun is setting and the rain is pouring hard, a shower of sand and H2O dresses the marble and concrete of the Empire. As quick as blackouts hit us with their sudden night, all turns dark, and the urbs before all’s eyes is gone.

Arriving at: Cavour

Train to: Laurentina

Left side exit.

A cold, lifeless voice announces what is the arrival of many and the starting point of the tens, maybe hundreds, of people waiting in the gelid undergrounds, seated on filthy chairs or standing, straining their tired feet with the weight of their heavy souls. As a hefty group snakes their way out, a single individual makes her way onto the mud-marked cyan floor. Suddenly everyone is quiet, but she doesn’t look up; her pupils fixed onto the one, lone copper coin sitting on the bottom of her crumpled paper cup. Her hand unconsciously shakes and her body follows the habitual routine. She tightens the gray veil around her head and covers her bony shoulder from the chill breeze, then she starts walking slowly, limping slightly after every step. The models catwalking proudly on the scads of screens above her look at her and laugh. Compared to her, they fly. She keeps walking and shaking her hand; she thinks she hears a few metallic sounds, but she already knows they are just a product of her broken imagination, the projection of dreams which failed to be.

Shy she now sits down.

Around her, men and women

Feel the urge to stand.      

Above the frail woman is the opposite of what she is, and exactly what she would rather be. A man around his early forties is holding onto the smooth aluminium pole a few inches higher than his head, his hairy wrist adorned with “ice” and healthy flesh, his neck enclosed by 100% chinese silk, his stomach held by leather and black cow skin. His left hand shines with marriage and grasps a shape of titanium and glass. Its two perfectly aligned eyes smile down at penurious admirers, and the silver apple on its back proudly shows its bite. The man starts talking into its holes and accosts it to his ear. His voice is loud and imposing, and every passenger looks up to him as he speaks.

Business -

finance -

money -

yes -

fine -

we’ll see about that -

now bye.

Suddenly he falls,

The train jolts backwards and stops.

Doors slide open once more.

The man has fallen onto an empty seat (luckily, not next to that dirty lady). He gently pulls the edges of his navy suit to fix its perfect tailored fit, and his gaze falls onto the young woman beside him. Her ginger hair twists and curls and shines under the dim rays of the sun and her dark red lips match the burgundy of the shrimp horse on her yellow cotton shirt. Her hands are tiny and slightly chapped, but they’re smudged with pink and blue and purple- and this makes him smile. Her fingers are wrapped around a fine, black pen, point 0.38, and they guide it in swirls and circles all across the page of the emerald notebook on her lap. Ink flows through the narrow duct onto the fibrous page, following guidelines and inspiration only she knows, creating what an outsider would define as “abstract art”. They say true beauty leaves the viewers speechless, but the man defies the rule and thinks out loud: he says the art is wonderful, but she can’t hear him- she too is immersed in her own world, accompanied by the sweet notes of love that flow through her purple strings.

‘Olivia’, he reads.

Signed at the bottom of the page,

Her name in cursive letters.      


On the other side of the woman, a boy. He’s probably in that age; the age of misunderstandings and fights, the age of first, tender loves and painful mind-and-heartbreaks; the age of loneliness and anger, the age of happiness and zeal- the age of so many endless chasms of conglomerate emotions. His head is sheltered underneath the concave top end of his sweatshirt, his eyes are masked by convex mirror sheets, and his ears are home to black, stringless devices. His back sits completely still, there is no notion of any movement, as the pink and white stripes on the fabric which lies over his spine seem to be perfectly parallel to the edge of the blue and gray plastic seat. The train stops once more, sparks of warmth and light jump from below the tarnished wheels, and the robot in the speakers announces “termine corsa”. The few passengers left leave the now lifeless alloy monster, but two vacant souls stay in place. The boy slowly lifts his trembling hand towards the hood over his hair, beaded with rain and sweat, and nervously lifts it. He then removes the blindfold that were his glasses, ousts his silent virtual music, and pauses. As mount Vesuvius sprouts magma and ash and stones, an ocean erupts from his eyes, and the fish that swim in it seem to drown and he seems to drown and maybe he does drown, he drowns along with the memory of his loss and the happiness of his life before it.

He lights a cigarette,

Then two, then three, then four.

Glass is stained by coffee, paint and tears.

© 2019 Luna

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Added on April 7, 2019
Last Updated on April 7, 2019
Tags: metro, rome, haibun, prose poem, prose, nonfiction, love, loss, sadness, happiness, wealth, poverty, critique



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