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.