Sunstruck on the Bath train, what have I seen?
Other men’s fields, improbably, still green,
apple trees which rise from rotting pools.
Does no one steal them, on the way to school?
Banks are a tangle; buddleias, withered hay.
Do you remember that we stood one May,
yards from the trains, yet heard the blackbird call
as in the deepest wood, half-languid, cool?
‘Children?’ I asked you once, when we first met.
‘No,’ you said, kindly, and I felt regret.
Now you have three, are rushed and somehow grey,
September’s cloud, which bars the slipping day.
‘Are you all right?’ your message asks. Oh yes.
Death, churches, empty houses, you can guess
the miles pounded. I see long fields, ploughed.
My great-grandfather worked land. Was he proud
to earn, deserving labourer, a sheet,
fourth place for hedging, with his name spelled neat?
We are untidy. But we turn the years.
I wish more blackbirds for your children’s ears,
for you, a humming train where fields are seen,
past drought or dream, swept on from us, still green.
If you have any comments on this poem, Alison
Brackenbury would be pleased to hear from you.