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A Gentle Word

In the first seat of the carriage
Sitting like a child
With big wondering eyes,
Hands between her thighs,
She looks out on an old world
Till the mobile rings,
Then a very sophisticated and ancient
Anger smirks across her brow;
She studies the text
With a sharp womanly glance
Then, a cup of tea to her lips,
She put the phone by,

And herself again
Looked out at this adult world
Going by through the window
Of the midday train;

We’re not in Hungary.
We’re not in Spain.
The only constant across the fields
Is the falling rain.

After Carrick-on Shannon
She gave in. Her brown eyes
Wandered down the long aisle,
She glanced into a dream,
And slept, alone and comfortable,
The wide brow in an exotic peace
Above the upturned fur collar;
And, out of habit, one hand-

Not quite ready to let go yet -
Perched tight on the upright
Handle of the small case on wheels;
I watched her travel on

Across the midlands;
She might have come out of a forest
Into a clearing; walked with a tray
Down a Paris street;
She was, even, in sleep,
On the verge of departure; 
Prepared to arrive again
Into a new place:

She straightened her legs,
Tried out a new face,
Ready, at any moment,
To alight on the platform
At Gdansk, and walk the strange street
To the correct shop. She slept,
Exotic and innocent,
And woke at each stop,

Looked round,
As she might have done in Prague,
Ahead of her the many destinations,
That she had left behind.

She read the sign with her lips
And then closed her eyes,
Read it again to herself;
No; there was a little way
To go yet, maybe half-way
Round the world;
Wake me, consciousness, please,
Wake me, please,

With a gentle word.
I did not see her get off.
I looked over and she was gone,
And with a rumble we went on.



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