In Memorium, The Grey Man Snow Hill Train Station, Birmingham

Did you feel it the day the frost set in?
The day the stone began to form, freezing,
numbing, petrifying, silent progress
in a place of delay and shifting wait.

Feel it. Wiggle your toes. Make the blood flow.

’45 with War gone, Routine clothed Peace
for free, heavily in chalk stripes, rough cloth
and a cut made suitable for Everyman with
time to clock on; with freedom to plan ahead.

Feel it. Wiggle your toes. Make the blood flow.

Office fag smoke and station steam obscured
calendars torn by time, flying numbers
fleeing into history or next year.
Progress for you a bowler hat. Status.

Feel it. Wiggle your toes. Make the blood flow.

Furled umbrella and grasped briefcase complete
you, urban lever, freer of the cogs
that grind out a growing, needy city.
Winter draughts blocked by thoughts of last night’s game.

Feel it. Wiggle your toes. Make the blood flow.

You must have felt it, known, deep down, that age
did not cause your slowness, the stiffness that
let different fashions catch the train and
hustle for advantage in crowds grown daunting.

Fight it. Wiggle your toes. Make the blood flow.

In the exhale of one ordinary
day it all ends. The train leaves the station.
You stand now in grey testament to the
fallen, facing the stairs that brought you here.

I wiggle my toes, feel the blood flow and board the train.

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In Memorium, The Grey Man Snow Hill Train Station, Birmingham by 


There is a statue of an unidentified commuter dressed in the formal wear of 30 years ago on platform 2 of Birmingham Snow Hill. He is grey and appears to be fashioned from some material halfway between stone and iron (but is in fact tin). He always catches my eye and I grew to wondering whether he was not always a statue……

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