Shinkansen: a poem for Charles

In fond memory of Charles Ramsden

Now, as you board your train
may you be met by
all the ghosts we have known,
those that follow us,
those that give us hope in our weary nights,
those that keep us together,
those who follow us, silent,
into the darkest reaches of our souls,
those who keep our forgotten memories warm

close to them,
may you be met by fellow travellers,
may you speed through the fields of England,
the heartland of Holland
 – which is not about
clichés like windmills and flowers
but a never-ending
fight to keep the devastating
sea of drowning
at bay –
the long rolling hills of Provence,
the forests of fall in New England,
the plains of Japan.
Fellow wanderer,

find your way home,
in the comfort of the Orient Express
at the speed of the Shinkansen,
find peace,
find the light,
while those who wait at the station,
queuing up to buy our own tickets
for that one inescapable journey
look forward,
with confidence,

as we bless that cross,
piercing forward,
into the starry night.