On the 3.53 from Newcastle

from a Guardian letter

The train had just pulled out of York,
the windows splattered with rain
and the tea cold as I put on my glasses
to peck at the numbers to speak to you.
Dad was in A&E again with another flare up
‘A cat with 10 lives’ we said.’He hasn’t
died then,’ I said.

The silence told me before the words.

I said I was OK but the eyes of the woman
opposite said something else.
Someone got me water
Someone got me tea with sugar for the shaking
Someone held my hand and took me to an empty carriage
Someone packed my bag
Perhaps the same person.

Alone the phone became a Rubik’s cube
until someone guided my hand and rubbed my back
and helped me work out who to call.

I asked to be left alone, and I was:
to pick the phone up and put it down,
to wish smoking was allowed,
to count the stations to London.

Published in Yorkmix