[Rough version: needs me to remove the phantom harmony!]
When I was a kid in a country town
and I’d nothing better to do:
I’d detour round by the railway bridge
on my way home from school.
Leaning over the bridge with my chin in my hands,
too young to be wondering why,
I’d wait what seemed hours for the signal to change:
wait for a train to go by
The lure of the footplate, the churn of the rods
straining to places unknown;
fog in November, smoke in the cold air
the faraway steam-whistle moan;
bathing my eyes in the warmth of the lights
as up the track she would fly.
I’d get home late: they’d ask ‘Where have you been?’
I’d say ‘watching the trains go by’…
Saturday lunchtime some days in the spring
with the sky an implacable blue,
collecting the numbers of Castles and Kings:
it’s all we’d want to do.
Perspective of steel cut through frostbitten green,
just went on to a faraway end,
and I always felt sad at the Cambrian’s tail-light
as she’d disappear round the bend.
Now trains mean timetables, luggage and waiting rooms,
leaving the people I love;
the pounding of diesels, the A to B run
– perspective has subtly moved.
Tonight I am free and the rails are still endless
(if I had the fare to ride)
but I stand on a footbridge in the heart of the city
watching the Tube trains go by.