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On the Chemin de Fer

On railway land
Chemin de Fer,
avenue of graded lime.
On each side weeds:
broom, juniper,
perennial oak.
Almond trees in
pink white
like cherry bloom
but tougher, more industrial,
with their turbine-haloes,
lemon yellow butterflies
and bumblebees.
New droughts haunt them.
Humbling to know
they don’t flower for us.
I think of morbid books
called ‘Late Harvest’,
or a painting by Courbier:
‘The Gleaners’
trudging a lime-bleached road.
Was that old man “Europe”
so often so hard, so cruel
a one-stop shop
for the soul?
But
I go out to the almond trees again.
I shall not scorn the dust
of which I am made,
and of which you speak (St Just).

Who so comes this way,
the almond blossoms
circle, in a hurricane
in an eye;
a kind of crying
under skies of pure azure.

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Poem Audio

  • On the Chemin de Fer