Traveling to meet you

For Tom

by Freya Marshall Payne


I remember splintered parallelograms
interfering with the coffee stain of September dehesa;
the transitional landscape of my traditional journey
was severed in two by my traveling to meet you.

The train tracks sped me out of Caceres;
Casatejada, glimpsed, played Adelstrop’s part.
I felt surface an intimation of proxy memories
as Grandpa examined the village sign.

He never bought it. He did not belong
to Oxfordshire or Gloucestershire –
more to reading Aesculus under
a far-flung Banyan tree. But

how insignificant is the place itself
to a poem’s intergenerational encounters.
The train rushed on, that September. You
anchored me to the future.


Through the saffron-sprinkled window
I saw already how you would conjure
a hilltop at dusk out of Madrid’s cracked boulevards:
your greatest feat, a heavy pink sun elongating the dusk.

When we went camping, you made the tent home
and when I touched you – expecting everything to slip –
you held me and – at length – you produced
Hong Kong’s eggshell dawn rising from behind Dieppe’s rain.

You have a knack for belonging. I think
I must have been nervous to give up those hurried escapes
but when I got off that train
you showed me home afresh.


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