An Hour’s Journey

At another meeting of our writing group, we discussed some famous journeys: Scott to the Antarctic; Livingstone to find the source of the River Nile; Burton’s journey to Mecca; Defoe around England; Hillary climbing Mt. Everest.

We then went on to discuss journeys we had taken.

Any of these – famous or personal – could provide inspiration for writing.

Here is a poem I wrote about a much shorter journey!

An Hour’s Journey

9.15. I double-lock the door,
hitch my bags on my shoulder,
turn the corner. Green Lanes.
Wait at the bus stop for the 341.
A lady with a dog gets in,
says she needs a seat, her dog is sick
and they’re going to the vet.
Someone gives up a seat for her.
Islington, I give up my seat
to the tiny old lady I take to be her friend

but who turns out not to be.
Rosebery Avenue. I find another seat.
The Courts of Justice.
‘She is my daughter,’ someone behind me says,
‘and that’s her daughter, she’s fifteen.
Three generations.’
I turn around and a daughter smiles hello.
‘She’s tall – she got the legs.’
The driver says the bus is no longer going
to Waterloo. He doesn’t know why.

‘Holborn Circus is now your destination.’
I wait in the rain for another 341,
get on, get off, wondering if I’ll ever reach
the address on the bit of paper
I’ve lost. I search through my bag.
It’s probably quite a walk.
The traffic’s thundering.
I stop a taxi and the driver says,
‘Never been there, but we’ll find it.’
Lambeth Walk. 10.15.

Sarah Barr

First published in ‘South’ issue no. 43

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