Intercity (Newcastle/London)

[The rail crossing on Glinton Road, Helpston]

Flicking on through landscape's pages
the 5.30 at a hundred
accelerates hard down the map.

Personal videos, smooth sound,
incessant announcements of guard
and steward seek to convince us
we're flying -- which we almost are.
I try to notice things...

I just watch speed, the furniture
of Intercity East Coast ticking past
with a low whistle of blurred lines.

Two hours on, stirring, glancing up
from an in-flight magazine
I see there's a changed sky
and out of it unbidden comes
a thought of John Clare, his complaint
about railways in an orchis wood.

And that instant there is Helpston church
and down the road, Glinton's
answering needle.

               Just a glimpse and away again
faster still, closing on London
saddened through suburbs, towards Essex.

Sean Street
JCS Journal No. 15 (1996)

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