Iain Campbell

Next stop, Honeybourne

Iain Campbell

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The sky was a broad stretched canvas

of cornflower blue, brushed thin,

with shuffled cotton scattering

summer’s fleeting patchwork shade

across all the heat of June.

The trains from Oxford no longer

draw up here; the white-lined platform

edge and gas lamps all are gone;

so no one left and no one came.

Next stop is Honeybourne.

Yet still the river flows beside

those tapered silvered tracks

and underneath the stone arched bridge;

then wends its way past meadow sweet

to old mill lade at Cassington.

Here the stickleback and minnow

glide beneath the fisher’s rule

until slash of brilliant blue

and sudden fire flash red brings

instant ripples to his pool.

But no more the dray horse clops his way,

on stumble of a stony lane

by hayfield’s crimson poppied verge,

with casks of ale and cider for

the old Fox Inn at Oddington.

No clatter now of porter’s cart;

no brief encounter’s goodbye lean,

or sudden slam of carriage door.

No muffled cough, or hiss and shuff,

or whistle blast of parting steam.

No longer morning papers bundled lie,

their headlines crossed in knotted string,

with neatly folded back page news

of cricket tests close lost or won

beneath a setting empire sun.

Gone, the quiet, sunlit waiting room

with fire blacked grate and empty hearth

and yellowed paper listing

stopping times for all the country halts

‘tween Banbury and Cheltenham.

Now no gentle tick of station clock

marks all the hours of Gloucestershire.

Instead, a bee loud bank hosts

primrose, bramble, forget-me-nots

and sweet scent of elderflower,

where butterflies alight, or flit

aloft in dusty shafts of light;

and then close by a blackbird sang

and all of this, that afternoon,

was almost Adlestrop again.

Iain Campbell

Iain hated poetry at school but has since changed his mind.  His poems are inspired by his love of the landscape and the sea, often intertwined with a tale of someone he has met, or of a journey he has undertaken.  He has had poems published in a number of journals including the Blue Nib, Dreich Poetry chapbooks, the Bangor Literary Journal and the Honest Ulsterman. He was a recipient in 2020 of an ACNI SIAP grant and is currently working towards his first anthology.