ON MEETING UNDER THE CLOCK AT CENTRAL RAILWAY

(an ode)

True to form I wait

on the outside     in sight

of the clock tower     on time

fixing to see you first

and measure my approach

 

Our daughter is with me

waiting packed expectant

at her interstate return

itching to see you and tell

but not letting me know

I’m onto the fidgety shuffle

of both her feet

 

I’m sure you said 5.30

and your teenage daughter agrees

But it’s 5.37 dad she     says

precise in all things

 

Yes     I know     the train’s not

in yet we’ve got till six

What if I miss the train

Extended holidays     the best

I can explain

 

(This cannot be     how could

you deliberately miss the train)

5.50 dad     can’t we check

the platform     Better not

Oh come on

 

We move off searching

She sees you straight away

and darts to your arms

burying herself there

I notice for the first time

she’s taller than her mum

And then our greeting

mutually tense     You grab

your child     her bags and dart

for the urgent train

— You’re always late

(I wonder when I’ll see her again)

Then you point upwards and I see

the giant face of the suspended clock

pointing impatiently towards six

But     I thought     I thought you meant

forget it     just hurry

 

And I turn slowly to join

a queue formed for no reason

I keep walking     pause outside

under my other clock

thrust     on top the tower

erect at six o’clock

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