Exeter to St Erth


I saw you on the train. In the reflection of the window. From Exeter to St Erth. The entire time. You didn’t even know I was looking. I was looking for someone to love. I was looking for someone to destroy me. I knew you’d understand about art and all that. Look at your rings, look at your eyelashes, caked in black make-up, and a nose ring. You didn’t know what to do on the train as much as I didn’t. You’d chosen to be wistful, just like I had. I could share my soul with you. Your face was timeless like all the English roses that had lived, wilted and died. Your lips were pronounced, soft, if soft were a colour. I wanted to kiss you. I couldn’t bear to touch you. I wanted to be you so I could be assured that being someone else wasn’t too different from being me. Even though you were white and young and unlike me in embellishments and clothing.

I saw your face up against the red cliffs and the water and the clouds. I wanted to hold your hand and imagined us walking along a beach sometime. And then you went to sleep. Of course. Lost in dreams even more treacherous than English living. You’d wake with an anxious bang. I’d be there to hold you, to reassure you that it’s just a change in scenery and hormones and life – it’s what it does to you, makes you feel disjointed at times and scared, even though you are the bravest person I’ve met, and I haven’t even met you yet. We will make love one day before you disappear into a memory, just like a picture I once drew of my reflection in a train window, from St Erth to Exeter. My red-headed beauty, my love, like mine, like my very self.

Does anyone write about me when I’m not looking, when I too am being self indulgent in a train window?

You got off at Newton Abbey; not St Erth. I imagined you lasting longer than you did, the image more than it was. You weren’t the girl I saw in the reflection. You were not me nor mine after all. You weren’t even beautiful. And so my eye-line is vacant, again.

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