Journey

John Tranter

The door slides shut with a hiss and it seems we’re moving out
    falteringly at first, the brick
    flats tilting then
    reluctantly shifting
aside. We’re starting a long journey with half the plot,

some of the story, nothing to worry about and hardly a clue.
    Now a canal’s rotating slowly,
    now a sodden paddock, starring
    a wrestling girl and boy.
All gone; we’ve had quite enough and we’re shooting through.

It’s hooroo to the broken mirrors and the scraps of sky
    glaring from the wet turf,
    the torn panties,
    grass stains; turn
your back and be rid of the lot of it, say goodbye.

Somewhere long ago you hunted among the chatter
    clutching a damp hand,
    frightened of appetites,
    bold, shaking, wondering
why she wanted you so much, and what was the matter.

And now she’s disappeared, or what’s worse, turned into just
    another bothered mum. Back
    there in the twilight
    then, she was a pink
breathless angel, all clumsy enthusiasm and lust.

They hope for more, they all want something mysterious,
    the heartbreak girls, the
    lost lads, it’s no
    thanks to the bread of life
but give them a piece of cake and they go delirious,

wanting the sun to dazzle and stand still forever,
    youth to ripen, passion
    to flicker and flash,
    every cheating
kiss a puzzle, true love a paradox and a fever.

And what are you doing here after all? Do you deserve it?
    Dodging the blades, weaving
    between the wheels and not
    getting the chop?
You’re hardly the handsome dandy after all, more the nervous

middle-aged college visitor bewildered at tea,
    ashamed of his tie:
    the wrong badge,
    prickly hedge, life
a locked book and an idiot rampant in a tree

wondering what the fuss was about at the front of the hall:
    the shriek, the slap,
    the shattered glass, the
    burst of clapping,
the stock market crash and the shock declaration of war.

And we seem to be rattling out of control along the track
    that clatters into the
    country, turns a bend,
    and vanishes into
the forest, into the waiting shadows, into the dark.