Tag Archives: trains

In me and out there

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As the train transits across the city sky
I feel rather like I am floating, blue and bright
past the tumble and tangle of rooftop and wire
through the endless echo of light

The streets I have wandered in are but a fingertip
in a city that stretches across for arms lengths
I hear your dismay in my ear
asking, “How do you make sense of this?”

I waver towards the driver’s doors
as around me the empty cabins dissolve
into light, scattering across the sky
And I fast forward in time

And there is me ten years from now,
waking up to a table of light
glimmering on yesterday’s unfinished words
in the same bright room I have slept in, alone, for years
But suddenly in a completely
different place

I stand there, wondering where to search
to find this that is slipping out of my fingers
Perhaps I will find you in the very last cabin
or perhaps somewhere in between the lines
In me and out there,
nowhere and everywhere.

The words came to me as I rode the JR lines through Tokyo, particularly on those sunny days where if you were on board at the right time, you would see light flooding into the cabin through the windows. After a long period of rain, sunlight is always startling, as was my realisation about just how expansive this city actually is.

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The present that mirrors all.

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Trains, like showers and other magic, are best taken in solitude. It rocks and rumbles as it starts, then the rumbles start to have a rhythm to them, and then the world is flashing by. You’re looking out the window and seeing beautiful things. Like the sunset sky spreading its wings over rooftops tinted gold, like dark rain glistening on the window, like morning mist bathing the trees as day takes first breath.

It’s not like a painting, where the colours are still. It’s more like looking into someone’s eyes, where the world swirls and pulsates with light. As you cut through the transient sky, there are a few seconds of dissonance where you are looking at the sky and the land but you feel like you are seeing somebody. The gold in the air, the glint in the dark, all appear as someone, someone dear, laughing in your memory. You realise this, and you feel a distinct sense of existential convergence, as though all the beauty and the wonder of the world were at once captured in that one moment, those laughing eyes. In your mind they sparkle, like bells. You’re aching because you’re wrong and you’ve always been wrong, yet you feel you must be right this time, brought back to a moment where you felt nothing in the world mattered more, except that the delight and the kindness in that face should never be lost.

Light and dark pursue each other and turn around a new day and you watch. Even as the train pulls into the station you are sure that somewhere out there, there must be an answer to your fears. You’re still relentlessly feeling your way through the distance with your eyes, trying to distinguish that tenderness that will restore your wonder and fill you with courage. As you search you realise that they were all wrong, who told you to look within yourself. Salvation, like an embrace, can only come from out there.

“You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh!”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince