Karroo Stop by Sydney Clouts

A whole
trainful of coal
like a soul
burnt black in a hole
or tunnel, passed us slowly.
We were halted in our carriage. The roll,
roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll,
dragged painfully, each truck like the goal
achieved, yet still this kept control
of each eye.

A horse and a foal
beyond were meager to it, coal-
black horse and foal,
and far-off clouds stroll white
in little mounds, and the coal
in mounds and piles that crawl
and crawl.

A sigh, a grunt from us all,
with one exception: I saw patrol
like a mole
underground, through walls
of skewer patience, cold and fire,
an old old
man’s sharp smile, an old
man wrinkled small
with teeth like coal.


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