The train, the hour—late, late late.
Sipping warm lemonade from a glass bottle,
I stare at the men who have been drinking since ten this morning.
An old tradition, they say: this stumbling along the yellow stripes
of the platform, this laughter at the mention of green fairies near the lakes,
spots of strange color. I must turn away.
Earlier, I was busy
dropping gingerbread crumbs on William
and Dorothy’s graves, fumbling
for an umbrella in the light rain. In Keswick
artists had set up shop at a little church
that smelled of strong perfume. “Poetry,”
one was called. I dabbed a little on my wrists. The scent
comes home on my jacket sleeves.
It was hard to resist collecting the portraits
of sheep, posed like a close family, in lovely Ambleside,
and at a leather and fur store I ran my fingers
through coarse Herdwick wool.
In Grasmere I bought a postcard for fifty pence in loose change
and told myself I was doing it right. It was also right
to tour Dove Cottage at half past two, before the rain got too bad,
but it might have been more right to go at three
when the bird in his cuckoo clock came out. Wordsworth,
the guide announced, loved that clock. Loves? He
is the Lake District’s great son, still. They are rather proud,
the three drunk men. One of them borrows
my multicolored pen to write his email on an old football ticket.
The scrawled letters run together on the damp paper.
His friend lights a cigarette in the grey drizzle. The train pulls into the station.
I am a face in the window with eyes fixed north.