Sixty years on, the trains
still run at the bottom of my garden.
I return, expecting to see
uprooted rails, something for walkers,
a crazed cycle path,
but I hear the train, and I see
the track, though the meadows it ran through
have been shaved and smartened
into a blazered sports field, and a fence
blocks my old path to the dark woods.
I search for signs of my childhood,
marks I might have made.
Someone has thrown away the broken tooth
and the bicycle,
and the moon my father chased up the street
got away – as did the boy
who pulled his toy from underneath a moving car
while I stood transfixed.
But the numbers remain:
the pavements, the houses,
the steps towards school.
The scene of my first major crime
(grand theft marble)
has been wiped clean
like my sins.
No more lovely young girls,
no more shotguns,
no more holes in the ground.
Everything is neat now,
except the forces’ club and its
car park in no-man’s-land,
leaking on to the street, as it always did.
Swinging on some railings by the iron road,
I dropped a magical red magnet
and could never find it.
Perhaps that is what draws me back
to this unremarkable street,
this shadowed and temperamental sky
under which strange things happened
to someone I almost knew.