I Draw a Map of Where We’re Going


by Emma Page

I draw a map of where we’re going.
It seems that all our pens have come from hotel chains
or medical reps. This one is called chlamydia.

We stop to buy flowers – sea-holly
and tulips – and a coffee. Good luck with
your move
we’ll say –

and we omit to wait
at the furthest end of the platform and
are forced to make a run for it

again. (We’d been naming
parts of trains, as I checked out the latest deeds
of the guerilla gardeners.)

Other lines have newer rolling stock,
a newer and more reticent smell, unlike this carriage’s
warm, worn fibres.

It’s packed and we all carry something –
briefcases, rucksacks, a violin, nappy bags.
We’re not the only buggy.

I am reading you facts about slime eels –
the foulness they squirt when they’re scared
and an old man is swearing at this couple.

What a slime eel I think, sipping my coffee,
and try to catch the woman’s eye and smile, when
the old man takes from his beaten-up

duffle-bag a kitchen knife.
Someone pulls the emergency cord
and the armed man’s sincerity

when the train stops
and he mutters about why we’re being held up
is almost touching.

Two hours later
from a café, I’m staring at the sea –
gigantic saw. There are

some portraits acting louche
while another shuts his eyes,
and a grandee pronounces

on a poem, how it gets to him on every read
right between the ribs. Cutlery on mismatched china
rings out, doing its job, as pleasing

as soft applause. He smiles and says
to his companion I’ve been threatening to give them
a recital for I don’t know how long.

About the Author:

Emma Page lives in south-east London and works in secondary schools and as an education writer. Her poetry has been published in Poetry London and Best British Poetry 2011.