Steel Cathedrals

Dirk Bogarde

It seems to me, I spend my life in stations.
Going, coming, standing, waiting.
Paddington, Darlington, Shrewsbury, York.
I know them all most bitterly.
Dawn stations, with a steel light, and waxen figures.
Dust, stone, and clanking sounds, hiss of weary steam.
Night stations, shaded light, fading pools of colour.
Shadows and the shuffling of a million feet.
Khaki, blue, and bulky kitbags, rifles gleaming dull.
Metal sound of army boots, and smoker's coughs.
Titter of harlots in their silver foxes.
Cases, casks, and coffins, clanging of the trolleys. 
Tea ums tarnished, and the greasy white of cups. 
Dry buns, Woodbines, Picture Post and Penguins; 
and the blaze of magazines.
Grinding sound of trains, and rattle of the platform gates.
Running feet and sudden shouts, 
clink of glasses from the buffet.
Smell of drains, tar, fish and chips and sweaty scent, 
honk of taxis; and the gleam of cigarettes.
Iron pillars, cupolas of glass, girders messed by pigeons; 
the lazy singing of a drunk.
Sailors going to Chatham, soldiers going to Crewe. 
Aching bulk of kit and packs, tin hats swinging.
The station clock with staggering hands and callous face, 
says twenty-five-to-nine.
A cigarette, a cup of tea, a bun, 
and my train goes at ten.
Dirk Bogarde