Jane Frank

At the Foot of the Mountain

From the train
we could see the Pyrenees
and suddenly I imagined myself
on a succession of other trains
going north or south.

The first text message would say
the flight had been delayed.
A second one would say
I needed to stay an extra week.

You were talking about the
graffiti on buildings,
but I was secretly composing letters
I would send them,
deciding which photo I’d frame
and post for them to keep.


Across the aisle a child
was kissing her father
over and over
and the ticket conductor appeared
just as my heart lunged
and I felt a stranger, even to myself.


Nothing Bad
I’m walking across a bridge in the
town where I grew up,
stillness in the unmoving
groundsheet of river,
tied at its edges to mangroves
still stained midway
with king tide mud.
A solid bridge,
built in 1926,
designed for flood,
a landmark in the place.


Some people can’t imagine tragedy
yet on this flawless winter day
I think of disasters:
the Tasman, The Golden Gate,
envisage the way this bridge, too,
could split at the point I’m passing
where the boats come,
people sliding into an abyss
as muddy canvas tears open
to swallow life.

It’s the silence that makes
me think like this,
the steady heat on my back,
the distance I am
from the headlines,
a dare to see if anyone is listening.
I look down
and the water’s surface is
still and dark
as it has always been.


© Jane Frank