The Probate Registry
Your last wishes see me frisked
at reception, as if I were heading
somewhere new. Sidling from
my pockets through the scanner,
Waiting room of Dickens characters
look up, eye me suspiciously,
wonder if I’m jumping the queue.
When all this paperwork is done,
will I feel something then?
Remember pottering along the shore;
fishermen’s shacks in the old town?
A town that now seems grey, far away,
the place that lured me for so long.
Your last, happy months in the care home;
worries, responsibilities, gone.
Views open up on churchyard’s
twisting road; snowdrops
never seen before. Geese by the pond,
collie watchful at church door.
Umbrellas and grey, weeping sky.
Placing your ashes, I muddy my knees.
Reunited, the new plaque says.
Long winter, but not the end of days.
Melting gothic icing; someone
left the cake out in the rain.
Drunk accosts me
at a nearby bar; doesn’t want money,
just an argument. Laughs at my joke,
then accuses me of being American.
Crazy and beautiful Art Nouveau rag.
Poetry readings at Els Quatre Gats.
The drunkard embraces me roughly,
then squats on the pavement,
tears off his shoe.
Our daughter rushes to pay the bill.
Gaudi was killed by a Barcelona tram.
One day, they say, the cranes will be still.
Stone drips like tears, flows as waves.
Lettering advertises belief on façade.
Fabulous, or overblown homage
to Catalonia? You decide.
Looe Valley Line
Two dogs sport for joy
in the sun on the far bank.
I can’t believe my luck;
a branch line that evaded Beeching.
Single diesel coach, railbus
in all but name, clip-clops
past waders, mudflats, seaweed.
How many of these lines could,
should, have been saved?
River dwindles to a stream.
Tangled woodland, smallholdings,
an old tennis court. We come
to a halt; guard jumps down,
changes points. Train reverses
to climb into Liskeard,
circuitous route beneath
Brunel main-line viaduct,
to a separate terminus.
A line that knows its place.
Return journey at gentle pace.
Slightly dotty passenger
familiar to the guard,
reveals herself as a steam engine fan.
“What’s your favourite? Mine’s Clan Line.”
We descend slowly, surely,
towards the crabbers on Banjo Pier,
where the river meets my B&B,
and I loosen my mourner’s tie.
Greg Freeman is a former newspaper sub-editor who is now news editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud. His debut pamphlet collection, Trainspotters, was published in February 2015 by Indigo Dreams.