The Later Train From Central

Her uniform is baggy, like her voice
so now we know the fine’s ten quid
(if the inspector gets on)
and the peak rate must be paid
because he didn’t buy his ticket at the station.
His face is pink. He laughs a lot.
The woman doing a crossword
solves a clue.

A thin girl leaning on the handrail
holds a carrier bag (Monsoon,
the plastic creased and the handles
pulled). A man in his thirties
answers his phone, taps his foot,
chews gum. Gum
makes my teeth ache.
The man with the bald head is my age.
There are bluebells on the embankment.

She tucks her legs under the seat,
the woman in the raincoat, glances
at the girl with auburn hair, but
they don’t talk, not at all, and stare
left and right, not moving.

The couple who just got on
may be married. The boy
at the back of the carriage
is doing his homework.
The man who didn’t buy his ticket
pockets his change. After the new flats
and the golf course, we all turn
to look at the sea.

By Janine Pinion