Second Chance

The last, slow train from Guildford
Is creeping through the night.
She reads her smart French novel
In the dim and flickering light.

Her smile, on me once only,
Is slow to turn away.
Dare I interrupt the book?
What can I find to say?

Too soon, with creaks and flashes,
The train’s at Waterloo.
I’m wishing that I’d said to her
What faint hearts never do.

She walks straight on before me
Down the platform, through the gate.
She grows small across the concourse
As my hopes I terminate.

In wretchedness I wander
Through long tunnels of the mind.
If I had asked her out for lunch
She might not have declined.

The last, slow train to Edgware
Is following its breath.
I stand, a world away from love,
A step away from death.

I board, turn round — and see her.
‘Please, is this the Barnet train?’
Then my face she recognises
And jumps on, and smiles again.

Listen to this poem — read by the author