It’s a pleasure to post two new poems by the Edinburgh-based poet, prose and travel writer Morelle Smith. Morelle also blogs about her adventures and globetrotting. This current lock-down is hard for us all, but it must be especially so for such a weyfaring spirit. These poems were written when travel was still possible and this only adds to their appeal in such straightened circumstances!
The train pulls out slowly from the station –
the view is of white lights, brittle, inhospitable,
vast hangars, store-houses, big signs
on corrugated walls with no windows,
Toyota, Asda, Lidl, these familiar names,
but there’s no access here, except for
trucks and fork lifts.
Goods, not people.
Seen from a train these metal barns,
carton-buildings, cartridge roofs – these barns
where no-one lives, from a well-lit carriage,
cushioned seats – are bearable. You’re going home.
You think of darkness falling on the tarmac
of the industrial estate.
The pools of white and silver light.
No rustling sounds of mice or cats
or foxes in the nearby undergrowth.
No birdsong. No owls hooting,
no forests, no trees whispering in wind.
The train pulls in at small stations.
Shy pools of light form puddles on the platform –
shine like stars.
The railway angels lean forward,
on their station lookouts.
These guardians of gable ends and balconies,
their shadows shawl the night,
throw a different light across the platforms.
Nothing surprises them, not glass or steel –
not the coldest light disquiets them –
they cast on dreams
around the fabric of the trains
and raise winged shoulders
that they wrap around the night.
On the Beach
A wave curls sideways
and its dark water
folds like a curtain in the wind,
or a manta ray’s fin.
The sand is hard on my bare feet
my heels and toes are wrapped in sand’s solidity
the curve and grip of its damp, sea-salted hand.
There are shells and rocks on sand surface,
and scratches from dogs’ claws. Ropes and seaweed
slither at sea’s edge, slip
those last few inches onto land.
Whose eyes I wonder have I borrowed
and don’t acknowledge, every morning?
The seabird’s, the sandworm’s?
Or just a waterdrop that’s always longing
for the sand – as if I didn’t understand
my destiny is sea.