The Old Train

A chain of days puffs from the old smoke stack
of a train that barely makes it up the hill,
and love sits beside me in a third-class seat,
while dreams nod in a corner on their own,
and soul is working somewhere out of sight.
Then I think there’s nowhere else I’d rather be,
than on a train that leaves from what I know,
through the undiscovered landscapes of a life,
to that place we all must go to down the line.

As the sun comes tumbling down towards the dark,
the carriages are a flock of golden lights,
and the last points chatter slow as we pull in
to the shadow-casting city in its rose.
The ancient wheels drum-roll us up the platform,
as the old train draws wheezing to a stop
and I hear the engine gasp and then grow quiet.
Then soul steps off to do the thing that souls do,
as we others spot you watching by the gate,
where you’ve waited all these years to take us home.

© Roderick Ford


Insects dream in their vaults of amber
around her parchment neck.
The atmosphere has preserved her
for nearly three hundred years.

She lies on her shelf as one asleep,
lonely in her ancient lace.
I think of lilies growing on dark waters,
petals closed for night;

see myself as a pallid stranger,
intruding suddenly at her side,
in her chamber under the earth
of a monastery garden shrill with birds,

set in a curve of summer day.
The dreamer is inside
the dream, but the dream
is inside the dreamer.

© Roderick Ford

The Sylph

I sit on a flat stone by the lake
and drink rough wine.

My bare feet dabble in the cool sky,
the wild clouds far below

All the thousand greens of pines
and reeds are a double

ring around this hourglass day.
Then a breeze shoves through the reeds,

the ruffles of its swaying skirts
twirl the falling world away.

Upward wings a shrieking disc of birds,
I pour the wine from cup to stone,

the sunlight walks across the lake in stars
and falls upon my singing flesh.

© Roderick Ford

A Plate of Holes

It’s nothing, just a plate of holes,
standing on a disc of lace,
their yellows, greens and russet reds,
their scents of breezes and the sun:
they wait there quiet as unborn souls,
unheard music, tears unshed.

And I sit still before the plate
and think of how I miss you love:
those times before I laid you down,
before the world was full of holes.

Remember all the plans we had,
the promises I made you:
those pearls still lie below the sea
and dream forever in their shells.

© Roderick Ford