Barrow To Sheffield

by Kim Moore


Barrow To Sheffield

Even though the train is usually full of people

I don’t like, who play music obnoxiously loud

or talk into their phones and tell the whole carriage

and their mother how they’re afraid of dying

even though they’re only twenty-five,

 

even though the fluorescent lights

and the dark outside make my face look like

a dinner plate, even though it’s always cold

around my ankles and there’s chewing gum

stuck to the table and the guard is rude

 

and bashes me with his ticket box,

even though the toilet smells like nothing

will ever be clean again, even though

the voice that announces the stations

says Bancaster instead of Lancaster,

 

still I love the train, its sheer unstoppability,

its relentless pressing on, and the way the track

stretches its limb across the estuary

as the sheep eat greedily at the salty grass,

and thinking that if the sheep aren’t rounded up

 

will they stand and let the tide come in, because

that’s what sheep do, they don’t save themselves,

and knowing people have drowned out there

like the father who rang the coast guard,

who put his son on his shoulders as the water rose

 

past his knees and waist and chest, the coast guard

who tried to find him, but the fog came down,

and though he could hear the road, he didn’t know

which way to turn, but in a train, there are no choices,

just one direction, one decision you must stick to.

 

This morning the sun came up in Bolton and all

the sky was red and a man in a suit fell asleep

and dribbled on my shoulder till the trolley

came and rattled in my ear and he woke up

and shouted I’ve got to find the sword. 

© Kim Moore