Poem of the Month: November 2008

soft covers

View from a train window
Between Dewsbury and Batley
before the temporary night of the tunnel
there’s a house I see,
from the rattling milk-crate train,
where a woman lives with her child.

I look up from my book to capture a swoop of images,
scattering from the back step of her life,
and try to read them, before they’re gone.

On the little wall, facing out
her bare feet paddling in the daisied grass,
face shining
with the spent ammunition of spring rain,
an upstairs curtain drawn
where her child is sleeping.

Or with the door open,
and a swirl of flowery dress
in her dance with the stove,
clay pots, lit like summer braziers in the yard.
And I guess that she is singing.

Someone write down her name and her child’s name,
record her voice
and tell the story of her front door life,
the person who visits her,
the times she is alone.

Then I can read it, tantalised,
all joined up and all broken,
between soft covers, before I sleep
in the brief dark of the journey
underneath the hill.

© James Nash
[Coma Songs, Grassroots Press, September 2003, 2006]

Photo © James Kerr, www.monofreophoto.com, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.

Hear me reading Soft Covers in November's podcast.