Direction of travel

In the last few days we’ve visited Cromarty, Orkney, and Islay. Many miles have been covered, so it seems fitting now, to share Karen Thirkell’s poem about traveling. Karen says it is ‘a reflective poem about traveling on the train to work, or is it….?’

Hmm … I wonder.

Direction of travel – by Karen Thirkell

These days, I choose a seat
facing backwards
and peer at shores receding,
blurring out of focus.

My eyes flicker and fix
on upturned, blackened bananas,
replete on basalt rocks.

On a lazy flap of herons,
changing guard as
sand-eels slip to safety.

The water stills to silver
and images of bridges crossed
smear the Forth.

Bike tracks on the sand
run parallel,
then diverge.

It’s not the first time
I’ve made this journey,
but the sliver of memory
is a skelf under the skin

and pristine recollections
twist and buckle
in my grip.
Tainted by the act of

I see sights without
their smells and shrink
from the touch of strangers
behind a colonnade of baggage.

I know my destination.


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