Robert Gray

Journey, the North Coast

Next thing, I wake-up in a swaying bunk
as if on board a clipper
clambering at sea,
and it’s the train that booms and cracks,
it tears the wind apart.
The man’s gone
who had the bunk below me. I swing out,
close his bed and rattle up the sash—
there’s sunlight rotating
off the drab carpet. And the water sways
solidly in its silver bowl, so cold
it joins through my hand.
I see, where I’m bowed,
one of those bright crockery days
from so much I recall.
The train’s shadow, like a bird’s,
flees on the blue and silver paddocks,
over fences that look split from stone,
and banks of fern,
a red bank, full of roots,
over dark creeks, where logs are fallen,
and blackened tree trunks.
Down these slopes move,
as a nude descends a staircase,
slender white eucalypts;
and now the country bursts open on the sea—
across a calico beach unfurled,
strewn with flakes of light
that make the compartment whirl.
Shuttering shadows. I rise into the mirror
rested. I’ll leave my hair
ruffled a bit, stow the book and wash-bag
and city clothes. Everything done, press the latches
into the straining case
that for twelve months have been standing out
of a morning, above the wardrobe
in a furnished room.