Next Station: Wilmcote
by Jane Commane

Who’s alighting at the next station stop?
Wincot, Wyncote, Wilmcote.
Has Marian Hacket missed her cue again,
asleep with her face pressed to the window,
too long in the glittering bars of Temple Row,
running in heels to make the last train at Snow Hill.
Goodly ale-wife of this parish, never you mind that
unflattering line, your only mark left behind
through four centuries – not even a walk-on part –
I’ll immortalise you here instead, as the late service
pulls into Stratford, curtain down, no applause,
and our tale begins again, again.

Maybe it’s Mary, famous maiden of
Wincot, Wyncote, Wilmcote
whose name flourishes verdant as her namesake forest
of Arden; evergreen eighth daughter with your dowry
of family land, ardent orchards, Plough Sundays,
green and gold of a harvest hauled safely in,
echoing even now in the apse of St Andrew’s. Mary,
your ruddy country boots leave muddy footprints
all down the platform, is this your rough worsted shawl
in lost property? Onto the station stop after Parkway,
mother of you-know-who, wily Bill who writ me well
and our tale begins again, again.

I’ll be Sly, then, if she knows me not:
Wincot, Wyncote, Wilmcote.
I’ll move between stations off-peak, season ticket
long expired, my ghosted prints on a cool pint
in the Mason’s Arms, my little breath of plainsong
pressed in the pages of limestone under good
Warwickshire soil between dragons and ancient seas,
plagues and inclosures – not even this leafy corner
untouched: quarried rock reveals the whorls
of time caught in the parliament of strata.
A poor man awakes in a rich man’s clothes.
And our tale begins again, again.