The train runs, carrying her amongst her things,
A bag upon her lap like some dull child
To whom her pale but red-ringed throat never sings.
All songs forgot, as she grows clenched and riled.
Her hand, all nerves, combs over a blond case
As if to soothe it on the lurching pace
From station onto station. Aged velour
And rustic rusting brown adorn the coach.
Its torn, high seats a headless stream endure
Of every modern man and law’s approach,
Ignore the whispering faces at each border,
And bear the weight of a collapsing order.
She might have stayed a gombeen man’s bruised wife,
Or screeched, a mad crone in the Sligo square,
Each word a litany against this life.
But, now, she’s fled, and lost all words for prayer,
No child left nor angel to escort her,
But sees her husband’s face in every porter.
Republished with gracious permission of Think Journal.
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Editor’s Note: This is the fifth poem in a collection of six called On the Shoals.
The featured image is “Viaggio triste” (1882) by Raffaelle Faccioli, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.