My thanks go out to my mother for this one – she first read it to me years and years ago and it has always stuck in my memory. I think she said that a former colleague recommended it to her – I remember this woman as having the most amazing bookshelf of children’s books that I had ever seen. As a child, I looked forward to trips to her house as she always let me loose on it. And I think she even signed off on my Brownie Readers badge. So thanks go out to her for recommending to us. Anyway, one can imagine the poet having heard this over the PA and from there their imagination went wild. It is such a thought-provoking poem.
“Would Miss Jane Eyre report to Airport Information? Miss Jane Eyre, please.” – heard over PA at Heathrow.
and he thrust himself into the streams
from every continent – a salmon
searching for a face as pale as chalk.
A bookstore! Surely she’d be there,
peering at the print of worlds she recognised?
No. Nor in the transit lounge
with massive Asian families,
nor the ladies, weeping beneath
the mounting roar of jets and air-conditioning.
He leaps the stairs – she may be taking
a demure, if plastic, cup of tea –
he surveys the concourse. A dark
hooded bird of prey, he sifts, sifts,
the dress of all the nations for a frock of English grey.
Would he catch her tiny voice in this damned babble?
The information clerk –
she shakes her head.
“Shall I page again, Sir?”
He gives a brusque, “No. It was an
off-chance, just an off-chance.”
“Is the lady departing or arriving, Sir,
from where?” But he’s striding
from the terminal, and minutes later,
his landrover nudges the northbound carriageway.