I was in a harness, pulling a child in a tiny carriage along a track across summer fields. Her
young parents were a little way behind us, arms around each other’s waists, their heads bent close. A small breeze lifted wisps of the child’s hair as she turned her gaze from one thing to another: a large stone, a sparrow in a hedge, a rabbit darting away. The track led us into a field of wheat. In the near distance, as I came over a hillock, I spotted a small herd of bullocks. They were trampling through the wheat, stopping every now and again to headbutt or mount one another, in that playful way bullocks do. They must have escaped from another field. I stopped so as not to catch their attention. The tiny carriage was hidden by the wheat, but what would they do when they spotted me? The parents coming up behind were unaware of anything apart from each other. Across the sky, small puffs of cloud were gathering speed, as if to reflect the increasingly skittish mood of the bullocks.
The woman next to me on the train needs some extra space to breastfeed her baby, so I decide to take a walk to stretch my legs. Wandering all the way through Second and First Class, I come to a window right at the front facing the railway tracks head on. Such an open, fastchanging view! An electronic sign informs me I can book a seat there for just £8. That will be for my next journey.
By the time I get back to my own carriage the baby has fallen asleep with its mouth around the mother’s nipple. Remaining on my feet, I start to tell her about the special window, but she puts her finger to her lips. I nod, realizing how thoughtless I have been, and decide now to make my way to the back of the train, wondering if this is where the driver is located, or indeed if there is a driver at all.
Ian Seed’s latest collections are The Underground Cabaret (Shearsman, 2020) and Operations of Water (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, 2020). The Dice Cup, his translation of Max Jacob’s Le Cornet à dés, is just out from Wakefield Press (US).