He sat in a small compartment by
The window, on a train,
The passengers huddled around him
Saying, ‘Tell that one again!’
He spoke in a low and measured voice
As they held their breath, to stare,
Watching his hands, as they described
Vague circles in the air.
There wasn’t a sound outside, except
The carriage, clickety-clack,
A sound that would tend to hypnotise
As the train sped down the track,
In every one of his listeners
Was a picture, in each mind,
That spoke to them of that better life
Which had been too hard to find.
And seagulls circled the skies above
As he primed their minds with ‘If…’
And led them all in a straggly line
To stand at the top of a cliff.
The sea was blue and the clouds were grey
And the rocks below sublime,
As they teetered there for a moment where
They stood, at the edge of time.
For then he’d show them a garden, with
The form of an only child,
Who seemed to be so familiar
That most of them there had smiled,
The scent of a pink wisteria
Had wafted the carriage air,
And then their tears rolled back the years
As they whispered, ‘I was there!’
He showed them a woman in mourning
With a cape, and a darkened veil,
Who knelt alone by a headstone,
Each listeners face was pale.
The bell of the church began to toll
As it sounded someone’s knell,
His face was the face of the gravedigger
As he held them in his spell.
The carriage was filled with waves of fear,
The carriage was filled with joy,
He’d tell of the death of a mountaineer,
Of a child with a much-loved toy,
Their tears they’d dry as the train came in
To the tale of a Scottish Kirk,
And one by one they would rise to leave
And head off the train, to work.
But the Storyteller would stay on board
And close the compartment door,
His restless hands were trembling still
As his eyes stared down at the floor.
The train heads into the future while
The past is deep in his well,
He sits and weeps in the corner for
The tales that he doesn’t tell.
David Lewis Paget