Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North

My Final Inverkeithing

by Paula Jennings

Travelling backwards on the Edinburgh train,
soft foldings of fields south of Dairsie
rise through steep woodland to Blebo Craigs.
Then broad beaches at Burntisland and Kinghorn,
sand-ruched and silvered with pools,    
give way to modest birches gilding the edge
of the diesel-blasted track. Nearing Aberdour
I look out for seals that bask on rocks at low tide,
their fat packed tightly into dappled skins.
Then trees too fast to be anything but generic
become alders, their roots in a murky burn
as the train slows on the approach to Inverkeithing
where the platform is shorter than the train
and we are warned to take care when alighting.

And I’m looking back down my familiar tracks,
thinking of that short platform and my shortening years
and what’s ahead, that final Inverkeithing, and
I can see myself stumbling through a darkening train
from quiet coach B, through the vestibule to coach C
where the platform is neatly aligned and a voice,
that has been waiting all my life, orders me to alight.