Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"The radio speaks in the suburbs"

Steam Engine (Caernarfon, Wales, May 2014. M.A. Reilly - Hipstamatic/iPhone)
This one was written on a train in October 1999, travelling home to Wales the day after the Paddington crash. (note from Gillian Clarke)

 - Gillian Clarke*

Cradled through England between flooded fields
rocking, rocking the rails, my head-phones on,
the black box of my Walkman on the table.
Hot tea trembles in its plastic cup.
I'm thinking of you waking in our bed
thinking of me on the train. Too soon to phone. 

The radio speaks in the suburbs, in commuter towns,
in cars unloading children at school gates,
is silenced in dark parkways down the line
before locks click and footprints track the frost
and trains slide out of stations in the dawn
dreaming their way towards the blazing bone-ship. 

The vodaphone you are calling
may have been switched off.
Please call later. And calling later,
calling later their phones ring in the rubble
and in the rubble of suburban kitchens
the wolves howl into silent telephones. 

I phone. No answer. Where are you now?
The train moves homeward through the morning 
Tonight I'll be home safe, but talk to me, please.
Pick up the phone. Today I'm tolerant
of mobiles. Let them say it. I'll say it too.
Darling, I'm on the train. 

*Gillian Clarke was born in Cardiff, Wales. Poet, playwright, editor, translator (from Welsh), President of Ty Newydd, the writers' centre in North Wales which she co-founded in 1990. Tutor on M.Phil. course in Creative Writing, the University of Glamorgan, since 1994. Freelance tutor of creative writing, primary schools to adults. Her poetry is studied by GCSE and A Level students throughout Britain. She has travelled in Europe and the United States giving poetry readings and lectures, and her work has been translated into ten languages. She has a daughter and two sons, and now lives with her husband (an architect) on a smallholding in Ceredigion, where they raise a small flock of sheep, and care for the land according to organic and conservation practice.

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