Bags at my feet, scarf loose around my neck,
I lean against the railing,
waiting for the bus.
Darkness grows; the streets are slick with rain.
People stop, form straggly queues
then turn to talk or say goodbye.
Some perch on benches with no backs
legs hanging or feet planted on the floor.
Some stand or shift from spot to spot
look at their watch or station clock,
waiting for the bus. Then,
'No, you were first'
'Your bag will need to go below'
'One return,' and 'here's your change' - find a seat and off we go.
The sweet, stale smell of crisps, dry air, damp clothes.
Raindrops on the windowpane leave shadows on my book.
People are hair and coats, cuffs and collars.
A rustle of crisp packets, flick of pages.
A hum of half-heard conversations; the muffled drone of music.
Some travellers do the crossword on their journey home,
solve puzzles with a pen and furrowed brow.
Kids play games or text their mates,
listen to music with a syncopated beat.
The long-haul travellers take a book, but mine lies idle in my lap.
I watch the cars, their lights and shadows,
put my forehead to the windowpane, and think.
Towns are lights and noise and people shuffling past.
Time passes swiftly: that house pulled down,
a shopping centre built.
Scaffolding that ebbs and flows and disappears,
leaving new buildings in its wake.
The fields are fallow, dark and ribbed with tractor scars.
But I, who travel this way often, know them in every season:
patched with scatterings of snow, the soil churned rich brown,
green with crops,
cracked and barren beneath an East Coast sky.
Towns are smaller now, cobbled streets beneath the tarmac,
Old stone houses, twisting wynds.
A boy who waits by the chippy door for a hand of warmth:
vinegar and salt in a squeaky polystyrene box.
More dark fields, with stubbled corn.
Houses, single-storey, a patch of garden by the road.
Distant lights flick in and out of darkness,
we are little bits of light in a sea of dark.