Mind The Gap

Here I am, swaying on the inbound train.
The seat warm from someone else, tea in styrofoam, personal space invaders and noisy conversations.
Rushing from meeting to meeting.
I should be preparing but instead, I’m daydreaming, looking out
At woodlands and slumbering trees, muddy fields and blasted oaks, sheep and horses clumping in the gorsey heath.
And catching glimpses of strangers’ lives – peering into homes and gardens,
And whizzing past passengers waiting at stations, caught in the space between leaving and arriving.
I should be reading the agenda but I’m thinking back to journeys gone.
Could I have imagined myself thus all those years ahead?
I think I thought, deep down, that life stopped with marriage and babies.
What would I have thought at twenty-one?
All those train journeys we took
From Chichester to Southampton to Salisbury to Neath to Kingston to Hove.
What if I’d looked at a woman, older, a proper grown up, staring out of the window day dreaming and known it was me?
What happened to all those years?
The gaps grew between hopes and reality, between plans and fate.
The same face is reflected in the glass,
Just older, plumper, the hair coloured but not for fun,
The smart office clothes I longed for then and loathe now.
The yearning to be at home creating and the job which pays the bills.
But across the gap the linked hands reach out from those barely remembered days.
The journeys I took with Deb and Mo, laughing on the train, imagining our futures.
How could we have envisaged me in the far off middle years, sitting on a train
Messenging them in their small corners far away –
The gap traversed by magic.

mind the gap

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission


Three grown women from college were we
Black and white in certainty as we could be
We knew it all at twenty-one; our working lives had just begun
And the world was wide and free.

We’d sat up all night and destroyed our fears
We’d shared the wisdom of our years
We’d cut the apron strings at last; we’d left our childhoods in the past
And shed our final tears.

But here we are now, thirty years on
The certainty, arrogance, seriousness: gone.
We’ve survived long days both bleak and dark; Clung desperately to the tiniest spark
Through illness, loss and funeral songs.

So let’s raise a glass to the girls we were
Of wine or cocoa, we don’t care
And sip it down like the women we are
Whose peaceful hearts still bear their scars
And maybe we’ll talk all night or maybe not
Somethings remembered, some best forgot
Maybe we’ll cry but I hope we’ll laugh:
We knew it all then but now: not even half!
In fact let’s look forward and let’s have fun
Cheerfully knowing nothing at fifty-one!

On the other hand..
At 21 we sat up all night to talk of plans and dreams
We didn’t discuss digestive tracts or arthritic knees
We wondered about the future and the joys of motherhood
And now we’re comparing stretch marks and tackling teenage moods.
We wondered how to do our hair, now we fight to stem the grey
Not wonder if the aches will go, or if they’re here to stay
On the other hand, we used to care if we were cool or hot
But now we’re content with who we are and everything we’ve got.DSC_0034