This is the Southern Service

This is the Southern Service

There’s a long building,
more wall than building
I used to glide past
on the London Bridge train

Flat, after flat, after flat,
dropped in by the track,
one hard slab of a place,
in yellow-brown brick

With arrow-slit windows,
like narrowing eyes,
don’t look, don’t start,
don’t stare expression

Worn fierce at all times,
but I always looked up
from my book, drawn
by this relentless blank face

Then one day it finally cracked,
we stopped and I stared,
and there on the roof stood
a magpie, a gull and a pigeon

The cast from some terrible joke.
A trio of commonplace birds,
three feathered crenellations,
turned gargoyle in passing

Shimmered strange for a beat,
then winged off with a jolt
And brick became brick,
And I was back on the train.

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