As the train rocks over sleepers,

I realise that I’ve always scorned

lumpy upholstery.

The carriage is a museum piece.

The only other passenger

is a man in a black raincoat, reading.

I settle into my seat,

and through grubby windows,

watch the downs fly by.

They soon give way to a suburban

sprawl. The man is watching me.

He has the penetrating eyes

of a policeman. I look away.

As we rattle by the giant chimneys

of Battersea, the train slows,

and a yawning steel terminus

moves into view. Over the muddy river,

tame, idle, brown, and he is still looking.


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