This isn’t Adlestrop. The train
has limped and lingered awkwardly and here,
at last, it dies. Some gulped apology
falls through the speakers, a so-rapid French
leaving us catching one word out of four
and reading faces - cliché-cartoons
of Gallic shrugs, so we shrug too
and watch a great tit in the hedge.
The only bird. Bottles of water come
(always a bad sign)l, smokers lining up
along the platform. No-time-soon
their shoulders say, checking their phones
and calling friends whose disbelief increases:
Plaisir-Grignon … Non! … PLAISIR-GRIGNON!
Hot, for April. Someone finds a key,
the one toilette (for staff) acquires its queue
and conversations: Vire - et vous? La même.
The same. An up-train, Paris-bound, and everyone
eyeing the platform opposite thinks: ah,
possible … No one moves. Unspoken trust
binds us to Platform 1, all Normandy
stretching through cider orchards to the sea.
Of course time solves the problem. One dead train
is hauled away and, throbbing down the line,
comes a replacement. Seats for all,
a settling back and books resumed,
the views unfolding. Stations come and go;
phones track our various latenesses
and plans remade. One unremarkable
and uneventful place slips back,
or nearly, into where it was,
or wasn’t, till today. It isn’t Adlestrop.
D. A. Prince
If you have any thoughts on this poem, D.A. Prince would be
pleased to hear them.