Day 33 of 365 – Ruth O’Callaghan




It is February. From the tracks beyond the cemetery
the last train defies the dark, defies the dark

beyond the cemetery. It is February. Onto the tracks
a body may fall, fall from the bridge

the bridge that springs over the tracks, the tracks
on which a body may span, horizontal

east to west or west to east, never north to south
south to north. Horizontal.

Too late, too late to grind the brakes, the brakes
too late if a body breaks on the tracks.

The woman at the window sees the man on the bridge
to the man on the bridge the woman at the window cries

Spanning the tracks that the driver can see
but not a body spanning the tracks

there is no body spanning the tracks as he moves on,
moves on defying the dark

beyond the cemetery. It is February. The rails are sharp
the night is clear, he is on time.

The driver’s on time. All is ordered in this dark. He’s taken advice.
He can implement procedures. Procedures.

Vera climbs the stairs of the bridge, sees the man on the bridge
hears the cry of the woman at the window but not the word.
—————————————–———————-——–She is alone.

He cuts a swathe towards the tunnel. He is on time
he is a man who defies the dark

he is a man moving on, moving on through the night
the night is ordered, he is ordered

the driver’s on time. He’s taken advice. He keeps his hand
he stays his hand, he can implement…

The boy sleeping under the bridge hears slippers shuffling
the bridge hears a woman’s cry. He doesn’t move. It could be
———————————————————-————-a ploy.

Procedures. He knows procedures. He knows this track.
He knows the exact, the exact point

to release, to release pressure. The driver’s taken advice.
The air is clear. The rails are sharp. He is a man defying the dark.

The man on the bridge hears the train on the track, hears a voice calling,
footsteps dragging. He turns. She is cardigan-ed not white-coated.

It is February. The air is clear. They are beyond the cemetery.
Beyond fear. The fear on the face of the man in the train of the man
——————————————-———————-——in the air.


From An Unfinished Sufficiency
by Ruth O’Callaghan
Published by Salmon in 2015
Copyright © Ruth O’Callaghan 2015



Ruth O’Callaghan, a Hawthornden Fellow, international competition adjudicator, interviewer, reviewer, editor, workshop leader and mentor, hosts two poetry venues in London, has compered and read at poetry festivals in the U.K. and abroad and has read extensively in Asia, Europe and the USA, and has collaborated with other disciplines and nationalities including Mongolian women poets (sponsored by Arts Council) which produced a book and CD.

She has been awarded residencies in different European countries and at the XXX World Congress of Poets in Taiwan was awarded a gold medal. She has ten full collections and her book of interviews with internationally eminent women poets has been said to be “a very important contribution to world literary history.” (Professor Clare Brant, University of London.)

Her two poetry venues, whose ethos is to promote poetry’s social dimension, enables both famous and unknown to read together with proceeds contributing monies necessary to support two Cold Weather Shelters for the Homeless – the latter are also encouraged to participate. She endeavours to bring fresh audiences to poetry – especially those who are disadvantaged in some way. She has read to audiences of nearly a thousand in America where she was the only poet and the following day read on a buffalo farm where the buffalo outnumbered the audience. (One has to be flexible to be a poet.)

She is also the poet for Strandlines, a community, multi-disciplinary project administered by the auspices of Kings College, University of London.

Visit the Salmon Poetry Online Bookshop to read more about this collection, including more sample poems