Early Man

In the days when I loaded goods trains for a living

Out of love for you, and no small concern

I felt cold and tired and clean

My throat pulsed slowly with the cold air’s burn

Down on the silvering frost-lit rail

Balanced with risk on the oiled sleeper

Pushing upwards against the weight

Of an electric four-ring cooker or a fridge

The tracks going on till they fell off the world’s edge.


I was selfish as anything just-born, and unforgiving

Out of love for you I made an effort to learn

To find a heartfelt thing and mean

It when a moment of your needing had its turn

By moon, by sun, I swore I would not fail

To grow by step, by step, to be my lover’s keeper

Hard work would temper me and keep me straight

But I grew narrow as a rail, cold as an empty fridge

As useful as a dead cooker dumped in a country hedge.