And now we walk, where railways used to run;
when smoke and steam obscured the happy sun –
which, like today, from cloudless sky bears down
except where nature wears
its wildest verdant gown.
My memories, more distant day by day,
connect me to those trains that made their way
on winding tracks, predestined journey clear;
time-tables ruling us
each year by coal-fuelled year.
Those journeys served our bleak communities
by cheering us away to distant seas.
But soon the great improving axe was heaved
to sever lines that through
these valleys warped and weaved.
Traffic abounds on our bronchitic streets.
Convenience strives against our sacred peace.
What have we gained by those myopic schemes?
Have they at all improved
the lifestyle of our dreams?
And yet this slow, this healthy, leafy stroll
would not be mine if trains were in control.
If iron and steel defined this woody trail
I could not ramble down
its way of steam and rail.
So, though my heart would still those engines cheer
our grand-children can still find air that’s clear.
Their futures, built on sacrifices past;
O, while we have the strength,
let’s make these journeys last!
© 2018 Graham Oakes