Swindon Works Scrapyard, 1974

We got in through a break in the fence,
behind a burnt-out carriage

I stumbled over sleepers,
my redundant dad,
just out of the infirmary,
and one lung short of a pair,
pulled up and paused for breath,
let me run on ahead

Between the awesome, silent hulks,
their weary liveries fading,
with doors ajar and windows out,
all lights and power gone,

I only have two pictures from the day,
one of him, unfocused, and tipped
at almost 45 degrees,
the camera too heavy for my hands

The other, one he took
of the flank of a machine
where a nameplate had been shorn away,
and in white paint on rust
someone had daubed “Undaunted”

Epitaph or rechristening, I’m not sure;
it stood at the head of a column
of decaying locomotives
that stretched as far
as my five year old eyes could see

To a blurred and distant place where
everything will eventually come
to the end of its usefulness,
its working life,
its line.

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