Tuesday Poem

On the Train with Judy Garland

We are leaving the coast,
the seafarer’s road to Utopia.
The train sounds weary, it is old stock.
The branch line runs between

dry-stone walls and bushes of gorse.
There are small estuaries,
inlets where the day ends in solitudes
that feel cold and fill with sudden stillness.

We hurtle through provincial stations
and slow down when it’s time to stop
for new passengers.
The girl on the seat opposite,

like a young Judy Garland,
has become my three-hour figment
of infatuation. Sometimes she seems
on the verge of speaking

but really she is occupied by what she sees
in nature: the vernal landscape
in the window frame,
the black raincloud like a mascara stain.

by Gerard Smyth

from A New Tenancy; Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2004