On the Bakerloo

i smelled the Underground
smell as it used to smell
aged five
sooty and inviting
the way boarding a train should smell
when the domes of St Paul’s towered high
over the city
and the Shard was but
a jagged figment of thought
a rush of pigment on an artist’s impression
an altogether fresher
less jaded by the nine-to-five
eager to arrive
desperate to strive

it got me thinking:
as blurs form like smog
not one day on and one day off
but gradual
lying and mystifying
and pulling all I know into question marks:
was I five, or was I five times that?
and where then lies the line
of cruel historian’s pen
between my London of today
and that of then?

but one smell told me:
the Underground marked that boundary
sooty and inviting,