New Welsh Review

Return Journey

Poem by Hilary Watson

PUBLISHED ON: 29/09/20


TAGS: alienation, communication, female, frustration, poetry, relationship breakdown, technology, time, train, transience, travel

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the call
connects as
a child screams
through the funnel
of the carriage.

‘It’s me,’ I say.
a man pulls the armrest
‘I got your message.’

  on the side
  of my foot.

  ‘Uh-okay,’ you say, I stare out

  someone rips
  a window open

  ‘There’s been a delay.’

  ‘What? I can’t really –’
  the train pulls in

  ‘I want to be –’

    into Didcot.
‘I… I wanted
to be

Commuters fill the aisles
‘Any other time,’
  like kettled cows.
  ‘any other
  you would have been.’

  I dig specks of nightshade polish
  ‘I’m sorry.’
  from my thumb nail with a key.

  ‘I know.’
    the glass drips
  ’‘You were perfect,’
drips condensed breath
‘I don’t
want this to affect you…’

drips damp
from tea bags on plastic lids.

‘I’m going to go,’ you say.
the conductor steps
    ‘What? No.’
through the gaps,
    ‘I can barely hear.’
shoving bags into shoulders
    ‘You should think about what I’ve said.’
briefcases into shins.

I want farms,
pigs, stacks of shit
    ‘Text me when you’re back.’

but the train is slow, hesitant,
halting amongst brambles,
amongst hedges, buddleia.

‘It won’t be for hours.’

‘Okay,’ you say,


Hilary Watson is a graduate of the University of Warwick and was a Jerwood/Arvon mentee. Her poems have recently appeared in Magma, Poetry Birmingham, Atriumand The Emma Press Anthology of Contemporary Gothic Verse. She was shortlisted for the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2018 and the inaugural I’ll Show You Mine Prize 2019 and the Verve Festival Prize 2020. She lives in Cardiff.



Photo by Gwendolyn Sterk.