Last night, dream-wrapped, I rattled once more
In the King Class steam-drawn train
All the long way down the Great Western Railway
Dropping down to Wales, the lost land of my mother.
My father is spruce, young once again,
Short-sleeved, carrying the Thermos, the sandwiches.
Mother fusses around us ─
Let’s all behave on the train now boys.
Blazered, Uncle Walter sweeps into Swansea Station Parade
The grand Consul motor-car all for us, and,
Soon we are down in Sebastopol Street
And through the door of the tottering house.
I ascend the steep, narrow stair to the
Grown-ups’ bedroom, dust-motes falling.
The gramophone’s burnished horn
A silent presence.
I glide to the curtained window.
Far below a dockland panorama:
Big ships from faraway, nosing up the channel
Tug-boat cables glinting in the sun.
Dizzily down the stairs, out into the clipped, table-cloth garden.
Don’t tread on Daisy May calls Aunty Margaret,
Alarmed beads and bracelets jangling.
But Daisy May is hidden deeply in the gloaming.
Late evening, around the tea-sconed table,
Uncle Walter’s eyes glitter dangerously.
His voice reverential, surfacing from
Deep, deep below his starched collar and tie.
He leans forward, smiles.
Come out the back.
I have something to show you.
Something in the garage…
But I have woken up and cannot get back.
And now my mother stands at her many-miles-away window
And sees the train to Wales coming for one last time
To take her home.