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Once on the station at Umberleigh

A blackcap chortled and laughed at me.

The wind lessened and let the sun out.

A wayside halt with no-one about.

We were early, waiting for the train

As I remembered that Spring refrain.

Across a single-track willows massed;

Twelve again with no thought of trespass,

I would jump down and scurry across

To find caterpillars of hawk-moths.

But sensible now on the platform,

My poor old eyes struggled to perform.

As hard as I tried, I could not see

The blackcap which was laughing at me.

Hidden deep in the osier bed

Where I fear no caterpillars thread

Their silken metamorphic cradles

Any more - just old childhood fables.

But birds here must find something to eat -

For it’s verdant with no dead concrete.

Then, over the blackcap’s serenade,

A song thrush begins his fusillade.

Both unyielding in their dual refrains,

Jousting with the little branch-line trains.

Emerging up round the curving track

Two carriages creeping on their way back

To shuttle over rails Beeching forgot

In that sightless economic plot.

Here they are, brushing the willow trees,

With blackcap and thrush in harmony.

© R M Meyer

North Devon, May 2019