Umberleigh

Once on the station at Umberleigh
A blackcap chortled and laughed at me.
The wind lessened and let the sun out.
A wayside halt with no-one about.
We were early, waiting for the train
As I remembered that Spring refrain.

Across a single-track willows massed;
Twelve again with no thought of trespass,
I would jump down and scurry across
To find caterpillars of hawk-moths.
But sensible now on the platform,
My poor old eyes struggled to perform.

As hard as I tried, I could not see
The blackcap which was laughing at me.
Hidden deep in the osier bed
Where I fear no caterpillars thread
Their silken metamorphic cradles
Any more - just old childhood fables.

But birds here must find something to eat -
For it’s verdant with no dead concrete.
Then, over the blackcap’s serenade,
A song thrush begins his fusillade.
Both unyielding in their dual refrains,
Jousting with the little branch-line trains.

Emerging up round the curving track
Two carriages creeping on their way back
To shuttle over rails Beeching forgot
In that sightless economic plot.
Here they are, brushing the willow trees,
With blackcap and thrush in harmony.

© R M Meyer
North Devon, May 2019