Content Warning: This poem discusses suicidal ideation and plans for suicide. If you are experiencing this, please reach out to someone – here are some resources to do so.
When I was twenty years old, I walked
from my new dormitory in Borough to London Bridge
all the way along the high street, at lunchtime,
when the roads were teeming with buses
and the pavements were full of people scrabbling for food
before their precious hour of break was up.
It was raining; not the sort of rain you can ignore
but the sort where the raindrops are so large
they sting your skin when they land upon it.
It seemed to bother the other people,
who huddled under umbrellas that didn’t help
when the rain came sideways and ruined their suits.
I didn’t care. I didn’t have an umbrella or even a coat,
I was soaked from head to toe but really,
that seemed irrelevant in comparison to everything else.
Because I was walking along the very edge of the path,
the kerb itself, a thin strip of paler grey to border the dark,
feeling the buses rush past me and stir the air.
They couldn’t have been going that fast really;
there was too much traffic for them to pick up pace.
And maybe that’s the reason that I didn’t act
on the thought that was in my head, resounding loud
every single time another bus passed me.
What if, it whispered, loud enough to drown out the rain
what if I took one step to the left – what then?
Sometimes I could feel the hitch in my breath,
the pulse of intent in my chest as I lifted my foot –
but it always went back down on the kerb,
propelling me onwards in the pouring rain
into the distance, far far away, where there was a better life.
And though sometimes my feet came to a halt
or sometimes I stumbled and had to be caught,
and though sometimes I still stand on kerbs and wonder,
I kept moving forward more than I went back
and I never went down the shortcuts to the side
and I am no longer standing on Borough High Street
drenched in the rain that seemed so insignificant
against the far bigger storm raging inside my head.