A Tunnel


A tunnel, unexpected. The carriage lights
we didn’t notice weren’t on prove their point
and a summer’s day is cancelled out, its greens
and scattered blue, forgotten in an instant

that lasts the width of a down, level to level,
a blink in London to Brighton in Four Minutes
that dampens mobiles – conversations end
mid-sentence, before speakers can say

‘…a tunnel’ – and the train fills with the sound
of itself, the rattle of rolling stock amplified,
and in the windows’ flue a tool-shed scent,
metal on metal, a points-flash photograph,

and inside all of this a thought is clattering
in a skull inside the train inside the tunnel
inside great folds of time, like a cube of chalk
in a puncture-repair tin at a roadside

on a summer day like the one we’ll re-enter
at any moment, please, at any moment.
Voices are waiting at the other end
to pick up where we left off. ‘It was a tunnel…’

from The Ice Age (Picador, 2002), © Paul Farley 2002, used by permission of the author.

Paul Farley in the Poetry Store

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