At Newcastle Central
This train glides in through a cross-hatch of stars,
A brief respite down England’s throbbing spine
This early summer’s night, a casting-off
Of Mayflies, taken away now by the Trans-Pennine
To feed to praying mothers along the banks of the Wear.
We halt where Basil Bunting was much made of,
But not before looking back, in the vain hope,
That a librarian from Hull might have disembarked
With a Charlie Parker LP. You want to get ahead
To our berth under Early Grey, but I hesitate, still,
For I am sure I saw the ghost of Osbert Sitwell
Escaped from Scarborough, now bowing his head
At my copy of Before the Bombardment that I
Bought for a song at a station book-stall in Tynemouth —
But it is a portly gentleman, not unlike the Dalai
Lama, and a host of other Incarnate Lamas, who breathe
Their Durham songs over our unhappy Irish baggage,
Like Lamas blessing babies in the reeds of Dharamsala.
* Thomas McCarthy is one of Ireland’s most respected poets. He was born in Waterford but lives in Cork.
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