Subway by Etsuro Sakamoto — Sidewalk | the resemblance

“Everyday I step into a coffin

With strangers

Nailing hurriedly

My own coffin,

I go toward the city

To be buried alive.”

— “Subway,” Etsuro Sakamoto

The first time I read this poem, I wasn’t expecting to get a lot from it. It seemed a bit plain or it is really plain. But just like all plain things, there’s always a story behind. The title itself speaks about how we might visualize the story. It’s a subway. A place where in thousands of unfamiliar people are always in a hurry. It’s a place where I’d display my bored face simply because there’s no such thing as ‘fun’ in riding the train (if you do it everyday). The poem also provides us with an element of time as it starts with the word “everyday”. By “everyday”, we mean it is done repeatedly, constantly and may even be part of a routine. This poem displays the repeated action of the persona and their struggles in the everyday life. As the poem was explained to me in a deeper manner, I’ve come to realize that it was more than bored faces, subways and life struggles. Subway by Etsuro Sakamoto revolves around how the persona decided to write their own fate. The lines from the poem are in the persona’s point of view as he/she explains how they make their own fate even though it was somehow ‘forced’. This poem is about how a person feels about doing something they don’t like or even love. They don’t do it because they want to. They do it because they have to. It’s been a daily routine that the persona gets sick and tired of it but in the end, still has no choice but to continue. Knowing my self, I know that I lose all the excitement I have in my body if I don’t like what I’m about to do. It’s practically the same thing with the persona. The persona hurriedly assembles their own death every time they do something they don’t really want. As they head to their destination, they prepare themselves to be buried alive again.

I am not that kind of person who lies about not liking happily ever afters. I am  that kind of person who would want every character to get their own chance to have a happily ever after. The sad truth behind the poem Subway was an eye-opener. It may seem small but it can give this feeling of wanting to go beyond the things you do. It speaks about letting yourself not to have the happily ever after you always wanted.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

— There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk, Portia Nelson

This Poem is entitled “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk. I find it very similar to Mr. Etsuro Sakamoto’s poem, Subway. First things first, both poems talks about an action done on a daily basis. It also speaks about making decisions that could seal your fate. In the poem, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk, the persona knows that every fall was his fault yet he ignored it. It was very similar to Subway because the person knows that by doing something you don’t like, you slowly murder you’re whole being because there is always something missing. Even though both personas in the two poems knew their mistakes, they didn’t stop because they knew that they had to do it. The persona felt that they forced themselves to do things because they had to even though they had to go through it everyday. It was very hard not to slowly murder yourself because what you were doing was something you are not interested in. Both poems end without a clear answer. It doesn’t speak of change and even puts you back to the thought of starting from the top. It does not show whether the persona has finally decided to go their on way because that’s what they want to do or if the persona continues in preparing their own death and struggle in the everyday life.



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