We would not put it past us

by Len Verwey

 
Call it a train, for like a train
it will take you away, to a secret children city
(call it a city) where you too might live
as you imagine princes live,
your bleakened faces radiant there.

Hahaha, but there can be no harm in waiting.
Keep your noses to the chill windowpane, wait
for that beam to sweep across you
some night much like this.

You want to ask us things, we know.
Where, for example, with the earth holed and cleft
and pilfered as it is, would the tracks be laid,
to keep a mass like that up?

You want to complain too, complain that if it runs
inside tunnels, deep beneath the ground,
one wouldn’t hear its sound.
And there wouldn’t be a beam.
And the station is an hour’s walk away.

We understand what it is you’re after.
You want to be reassured,
you think perhaps the game we play with you
was played with us too.

Maybe you are right: there is
a kind of vigil in us still, a gauntness
not so different from yours.
You are like us as we were before.
You are like us as we are now.
But if it is a game, the rules exclude
questions and complaints
and certain moves are not permitted.

We will not laugh to see you trample one another,
eager to get on, or wait until the last moment
then wrist-flick all that beautiful
machinery to hell and gone.

Pay attention though.
We would not put it past us to shake at you
after the fact, say listen,
there goes your train, you slept and missed it,
again, scab-kneed waiters, would-be princes,
snot-nosed hearkeners of nothing.

Come here, come stand with us instead.
Come and look at the morning.

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