Changing Trains

Changing Trains

An express lances through a verdant cutting.

Insistent, a tell-tale whistle of air

compressed against an aerodynamic shell;

air forced aside as the train

has somewhere more important to be.

The tuning-fork wheel hum

on unending miles of extruded track

robs us of a heartbeat, like grieving for

that throat-clearing cough from the first few puffs of steam.

 

Our past was once green-flagged,

waived from when all the doors were click-slammed,

heads thrust through lowered windows

ignoring the warning signs –

then thrust back in at sudden tunnels,

our reflex need to be scared of the dark

or the dank and dripping arcing walls

we feared closer than they could have been.

 

This compulsion to change trains

seeds itself like growing-up,

a sacrifice of the leisurely and romantic

for the functional’s vacuous promise

as if getting somewhere faster were all that mattered.

 

Accompanied by its uniform sound

our modern plastic train takes us

away from yearned for dreams and

the romance of waiting with a notebook, pencil and

curled ham sandwich to trace a new number.

It takes us towards a station we once imagined

would be crafted of delicately wrought ironwork

and pilasters of sculpted marble.

 

But it is not discovery now. Nothing more

than a jumble of signs in a modern font,

fast food, noise and litter; an antiseptic terminal

devoid of character and satisfaction.

 

We could be anywhere.

 

And nowhere.

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