Train at Night in the Desert
Charcoal dark. Nothing to see but twin ghosts
of your face in safety glass, the man opposite
upholstered in thick fibres of slumber.
You’re pulled by a faith
in steel. The train is a lung breathing dust
as it huffs to a black dot on the map:
a bug stuck on its back, giggly legs flailing in air.
Out there, the coyote keeps its secrets,
it has its own line of action.
It doesn’t give a shit about your plans.
I wear an oxygen moustache, hating the cold
creep of air into my lungs, but the nurse says
I must keep breathing. I watch the slow clock
of blood through the IV tube, my insides out,
on display, my ‘fluid being’, my ‘wine of life’ –
but why would I try to make a poem of this?
I’m nothing more than a few sheets clipped
to a board, my bodily functions monitored
in words that doctors register above my head.
There’s no poetry in the hospital gown, worn
thin from the rub of skin, or the urine stench
or how a person dies, without elegy or dirge,
on the other side, just a curtain between us
We maroon ourselves
on tiny plots, worlds
shrunk to fit. Our terrain
is difficult, our waves
choppy. We have few
natural resources, we live
on what we forage,
hoard air and water.
We grow turf, hide
in the long grass
so no one can find us,
stares, our eyes fixed
on the horizon, waiting
for a ship that never docks,
the off-island always beyond
reach, always in sun,
like a gem behind glass.
We put seas between us,
we won’t be rescued.
Tamar Yoseloff’s sixth collection, 'The Black Place', will be published by Seren in October 2019. She’s also the author of 'Formerly', with photographs by Vici MacDonald, shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award; and editions with artists Linda Karshan and Charlotte Harker respectively. She’s a lecturer on the Poetry School / Newcastle University MA in Writing Poetry.