Read Poem: On a train from Reading station, by Art Johnstone

I could not contain the smile, it grew.
No affectation.
One of those spontaneous smiles, quiet humour, or irony,
that sometimes steals its way across my face.
Like an ambush.

Will he notice?

This cool, young black man sitting opposite,
on the train from Reading station.
18 (I think) with his girl.

From top to bottom,
immaculate.
My father would be impressed
if he were alive,
if he would see.
But I knew he wouldn’t,
couldn’t.
No speck of dust, no dirt.
Coordinated.
Primed.
And his shoes!
Trainers,
gleaming white.
No doubt expensive
with a vibrant Nike tick.
Tall, slim, fluid shape, casual,
seemingly unconcerned, confident.
Skateboard tucked,
accidentally,
under arm.

A trophy?
He wants us to look,
but not really.

And then there’s me!
Sitting opposite.
On the train from Reading station.
57 (I know) alone.
Will he notice?
In my new Chinos (stretch)
fitting nicely, I think.
From top to bottom, immaculate.

My father would be impressed,
if he were alive,
if he would see.
But I know he wouldn’t,
couldn’t.
No speck of dust or dirt.
Coordinated.
Primed.
And my shoes!
Brown brogues, leather sole.
No question. Expensive!
With a vibrant shine.
Tall, slim, not-so-fluid shape these days, casual,
seemingly unconcerned, confident.
Wrinkles etched,
accidentally, across a face.

Trophies?
I want them to look,
but not really.

From the platform,
through the carriage window,
people see

us.

Different.

Yet here we are!
Opposite.
Sharing.

A love of shoes,
silent dreams,
a single, brief-lived moment,
together in this life:
as we rode the train,

from Reading Station.

https://www.artjohnstone.com/

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