The first day of spring

Time being largely a fancy created by humans to rationalize forces infinitely more complex than our ‘gold-fish ‘ bowl imaginings, it should not be a surprise that the first day of spring can be a summer’s or a winter’s day-today it is most definitely the latter. I spent most of it in the historic market town of Chesterfield, where I read my copy of Crannog magazine- a fine Irish publication from Galway, which landed on my doorstep this morning. It was bloody cold-with a bitterly cold east wind and flurries of snow so I stayed in cafes, writing and chatting to a charming PHD student about the middle east-her specialism-and the impact of social media- i also had a long chat with my old friend Phil- a chat which roamed far and wide. This poem-first published in ‘The Journal’,has nothing to do with Chesterfield. It does however describe a journey by train, a few years ago, to or from Chester.

 

Birtwisles’ Pies

 

Three seasons in an hour today

 

As seen from the window of our train

 

That nudged its way from Chester.

 

Weak sunshine, light rain-then snow.

 

 

We stopped first at Delamere,

 

At a field of stubble where fieldfares grazed

 

By birch trees broken by a storm,

 

Or snapped clean by weight of ice.

 

 

 

You slept and missed Cuddington,

 

And Greenbank- where the blond girl left the train

 

Then teetered off on her high heels

 

To her distant suburban dreams;

 

As a flock of gulls left for the Dee

 

At Lostock Garnham, where the sun appeared again.

 

 

 

You missed the peach cheeked girl at Plumley

 

By the sign for Birtwisles Pies,

 

The largest cemetery I have ever seen.

 

And, as we trundled across the plain

 

I doubted that I would ever see

 

Northwitch again.

 

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