Snapshots from a Train
by Michael Brett

My father had always the same dream
From his war; not a dream exactly
But a memory of German children
Burning alive in a field.

London streets were busy as the human heart,
As full, when he returned;
Awash with faces that he knew-
Or like the faces that he knew.

All the faces were like leaves
-Police identikits-
Or like each other as faces are
In Army identity papers;
In black and white Army pictures.

Each passed him by
As lit up rooms in houses pass
In and out of vision and

On long train journeys
He saw his life again
In snapshots from a train:

A boy practising piano,
His father bringing in some coal;
Christmas games of monopoly.

He enjoyed imagining the London voices
Polishing the air like granny's teapot,
Behind the steam whistle of his express train;

Then he left London-and his family-
To live alone in a place
Where there were no people-
Not even trees-

But there was always the dream
That was too big for a train window.
It had him still waking up at night
In his late eighties, making toast and tea
At 3am.

It was always the same dream:

The child soldiers running towards him and
The Guards Division flamethrower tank;

Would you like some tea? He said.

Copyright © 2014 - Michael Brett
Published: 1/23/14   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem