Gare du Moor
Meet me at Moor Street. Where the day begins,
crowds weave songlines through the airy hall
and stride beneath this roof’s iron crown,
this Edwardian brown queen of the valley.
Platform One: travel through this portal into Brum,
let’s-hit-this-town, later back down the shiny track,
Birmingham Snow Hill, Jewellery Quarter, Hockley,
Soho and Winson Green, Handsworth and Smethwick.
Platform Two: arrival, doors’ big sigh, pouring
bodies and souls, outflow, the rolling shoal swims
through tickety gates like weirs, flish flash flish,
pilgrimage to office, Ikon, Selfridges.
Journey-faces, hearts racing as they rush
– the frontier begins here – under the sign
Way Out to Bullring & Taxis. Last train leaves at ten,
The Hawthorns, Smethwick Galton Bridge, Rood End.
Red-hatted woman, head turning, not certain
which way to go. Platform Three? Pause. Sliding
doors, she runs, slips into the train not taken.
Man with blue suit and tie looks down the line,
his brown eyes driving trains through Russian snow.
Dizzy lovers mind the gap, last minutes, clinging.
Small girl in tall crowd, “Mum, is it long now?”
To Langley Green, Rowley Regis, Old Hill.
Looking up at the Departures Board –
in rugby shirt, checking watch, anxiously;
with yellow handbag, balancing coffee, casually;
checking times against Trainline on her mobile;
in cowboy hat, dropping crumbs, eating a pasty;
leaning back, open-mouthed, peering, wrinkling nose;
hungover, blurred eyes, can’t read the wobbling letters,
Cradley Heath, Lye, Stourbridge Junction.
After work, relax and drink, careless
in the little bar. Pretend that you’re in Paris,
in this chic French café at the Gare du Moor.
Or drink tea, burning, after love’s brief encounter.
Then equipped with lager, paper, phone,
let go of the day. Settle or slump in the corner
over the formica, wind down, ready for home,
Hagley, Blakedown, Kidderminster.
Under lace petticoat of platform roof
rewind, at dusk, sit on gloomy benches
in wartime Britain, shoulder to shoulder.
Wait, invisible, huddled in a transit zone
heading towards Primark’s utopia.
It’s a movie, and our heroine from Syria
waits on Platform Four for the 18.22,
Hartleby, Droitwich Spa, Fernhill Heath.
Meet me at Moor Street, where busy legs bustle
through odysseys of ordinary days.
Railway staff in high vis, badges glinting
in the dappled light of this glass palace.
To Platforms One and Two, the old sign dangles.
Trains pull in, and leave, carriages squeeze,
unsqueeze, like caterpillars. Old lamps shine above,
Blackpole Halt, Astwood Halt, Worcester Shrub Hill.
Matt Black lives in Leamington Spa, writes poems for adults and children, and was Derbyshire Poet Laureate (2011-2013). His recent collections are Spoon Rebellion (Smith Doorstop, 2017) and Tales from the Leaking Boot (Iron Press, 2018). He works on commissions, and as a visiting writer in schools, and his play The Storm Officer is touring in 2018. www.matt-black.co.uk
Banner image: James Petts