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(1942 / London)

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Anderson's Piano (the first 3 poems)

Cruachan: derailed train

A rare red rose bloomed for a week in June.
Perhaps it saved the lives of those
who came unharmed from the rock-tripped train
high above deep water in Argyll
where the long loch is death's wake deep
and the wild rose blooms in a canyon,
the rare red wild June rose.

Late light of June, lasting almost
all night, they file at evening's end
in a forced trudge to Cruachan,
tracks empty and safe as houses,
this desolate dedicated railroad
five miles or more from all houses

but how lucky, here's Cruachan,
power station under the mountain
of caves and a visitor centre,
bread and soup and a small first aid box,
a flare of yellow light in the dusk,
sweet tea for the shaken driver.


Exodus

An hour to check them all off the train,
held by the hand, assisted
down steep ladders to the sleepers,
forest awake and dark around them,
sixty souls safe, and guided,
emergency exodus through rockscape,
cab lamps at front and rear.

By forest, moorland, over horizons
the linked ribbons of the road
deserted and owned by the deer,
hum with a whistle of fire engines,
police, precautionary ambulances,
engineers, a Loch Awe tealady.

The jumbo carriages wait,
stuck to the landscape, wheelless,
soothed by the spirits of trees
that stalk the extravagant light,
zephyrs encouraged by the downdraft
of the morrow's helicopters.


Anderson's Piano

No myth, but strange reality,
those eerie sounds that sing in the dark,
symphonies for foxes, scavengers,
seabirds come too far, misled by lochs.
Muffled in slumber, intensified by mist,
atmosphere its own instrument,
the last traveller's last lullaby.

Tracing the perilous railroad,
over the bare bouldered terrain
through the terrible Pass of Brander
where the water is black and deep,
the glen-long fence-wire sleeps on guard,
instinctive harp of the high wood.

The train brings commerce to a coastline,
bridges this pass of bleak landscape
to the islands beyond poverty,
runs safer thanks to Anderson's trick.
If rock falls, the harp's wire
signals, a bell is struck.

2011

Submitted: Saturday, August 13, 2011


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