Thursday, 26 September 2019

Zone 6 to Zone 4 (Seasonal variations may occur)

Waiting on the platform,
a journey I have taken thousands of time,
a spot near the rear
that lines up doors opening here
with first to the stairs there,
oily rainbow flashes on the rails
tell of the squeal of metal on metal,

then the sound rushing in,
the full locomotive cacophony
of roaring and screeching and clunking,
it thunders and rattles and chunters,
squeals and whistles to a stop,

the familiar sound of doors beeping and sliding
invites us in,
I step over the gap, and enter the tin can worm,
the iron tunnel of light, the mansize metal bendy straw,
cloudy eyes have already logged,
a front facing seat, with no neighbours,
and a voice, friendly yet authoritative,
announces where this is, where the next stop is
and where it all ends,
this announcement will advance with us,
adjusted at each stop,

doors beep and shut, we avert out eyes
from the rushers and leapers
and those too-late pretending they’d prefer the next train,

no-one speaks,
except to those they brought for this purpose,
we don't have the energy for small talk,
everything I believe
would be a pleasure to share,
but small talk is a careful dance,
I don't want to remember the steps nor tread on toes,

we roll out picking up a smooth whining speed,
past a herringbone pattern of parked cars
gleaming like polished cobbles in the rain
hundreds of thousands of pounds of technology, idling,

all we have time for
is to daydream our journey away,
by book, phone, tablet, whatever, or
staring out of the window at the inhabited world,
the streets alive with cars and people,
the houses silent, empty or confining,

the wide expanse running alongside tapers
into a tunnel of green,
and under a bridge I used to live over,
emerging high above the roofline, as the road dips low
to overlook backs of houses, extensions and trampolines,

ahead the bridge reminds me of Brooklyn, briefly,
its striped shadows flicker,

the line of the high street swings towards us,
somewhere near the top, my home indistinguishable,
gone before I can put myself at my own front door,
the road rises to meet us again,
as we cut without heed through local contours,

the park on one side, and the hill I know so well,
Then into another tunnel of green, slowing in the darkness,
a smooth glide to a stop, and a high pitched whistle,
it sounds quite different from the inside,

another announcement breaks the noisy silence,
look for up for familiar faces,
award winning flower beds
abandoned to shades of green, and brown,
people enter in animated, and settle their vigour drained,

we pick up speed and the yellow safety lines lose definition,
bind weed covers wire fences like camouflage netting,

feel the difference between what is close and fast,
and what is distant and slow

The trees and leaves blur with speed,
my eyes drop to the cables running along the track,
they jump and flicker,
wobble and vibrate, racing with the train,
my eyes drawing an imaginary thread
from where I came,

bridges slow flash their shadows from overhead,

an immobile sky, dried white tyre tracks today,
the world might be upside down
and we are hanging,

sealed in this capsule
I can't put my hand out, to feel it all go by,

we emerge high above a busy high street,
a concrete battleship slides towards us,
dry docked, with the next shift,
lush overgrown shrubs knit a foliage fence,

the outside is let in, the doors beep and slide
new faces enter, fill gaps in the seats and settle,
the announcements are white noise, soon over,

we slide out past a coffee bar on one platform,
a Pisa of paint pots behind glass on the other,

behind a wall, high speed trains thunder through,
their passengers serene,

dark shadows of concrete,
make a sandwich of cars and light,
and a high sided wall pushes houses back from the tracks,
marked with sparse graffiti tags,

the view is shielded by overlapping green,
a missing piece in a jigsaw of trees
reveals the square lines of a school,

clang ! socked by an oncoming train
and rattled to the last of its carriages,

bare stumps of butchered trees,
executed without trial,
and gardens in all their variations,
manicured, evergreen, bare,
and abandoned trampolines,
tricycles and plastic slides,

our train hisses to a stop, no steam,

a bleaker station, isolated high above the gardens,
a black fence of metal rods and climbing bind weed,
flowers like gramophone speakers announce themselves,

we glide above the silent film playing on both sides,
slicing a slope between north and south,

the cables are still running with us,
and the tracks too,
their movement different,
a shift away a shift towards,
shimmering like swords,

to the south houses open up for the art deco garage,
unchanged in memory,
and a long triangle of allotments nestles between here,
and the other line coming in slowly,

we slow and slide then crawl next to empty tracks,
rails ablaze with red stemmed weeds,
while buses wait outside patiently,

one last set of announcements,
bleeps and sliding doors,
and we step onto the island, funnel up the stairs,
and separate out into our lives.