Words a Polish girl was talking
in a train confused the poet Phil,
causing him to give up stalking.
He thought there was no chance that she could thrill
a wordsmith without words that he
could understand, yet often those we do
can turn us off far more, when we
cannot respond with something new or true.
While words we do not understand
are paradoxical as an oasis,
and water in a foreign land,
the ones we do are thorns in stony places
that hurt when grasped. And yet
we have to struggle to communicate,
for only lips when they are wet
enable us like verbs to conjugate.
Inspired by “Like the Train’s Beat” by Philip Larkin
Like the train's beat
Swift language flutters the lips
Of the Polish airgirl in the corner seat,
The swinging and narrowing sun
Lights her eyelashes, shapes
Her sharp vivacity of bone.
Hair, wild and controlled, runs back:
And gestures like these English oaks
Flash past the windows of her foreign talk.
The train runs on through wilderness
Of cities. Still the hammered miles
Diversify behind her face.
And all humanity of interest
Before her angled beauty falls,
As whorling notes are pressed
In a bird's throat, issuing meaningless
Through written skies; a voice
Watering a stony place.