It’s not uncommon for trains on the main railway line along which I used to commute to be delayed “because of a fatality on the line”. This is usually a suicide. Mondays often seem to spark this off (presumably for people going to work or school after the weekend). Usually I’ve just been a badly delayed passenger, cursing inwardly at delays of maybe three hours in hot weather (another sparking factor, I think). Then I’ve known there was a personal tragedy behind it, a lost life and damaged lives, but couldn’t relate to something so distant and unknown.


About a year ago I was on a train that struck someone, a young woman I was told. It must have been a suicide because it was nowhere near any kind of crossing and the line at that point ran through fields with a road and a few buildings about a mile away. I felt no impact, but saw police and other emergency people coming down the side of the train peering under it.


A railway worker who was travelling on the train said this was the second time it had happened to that driver.


This poem builds on what I experienced and wondered about.




She trudged a mile to the track

And waited for the stopping train

The passengers felt no impact

The paramedics came again.


Decanted, passengers wandered round

The platforms of a loveless stop

No music and no shroud

Heavy bags began to drop.


Returning to from whence we came

Normality solidified from air

The lost time was a shame

Gentleman marks the crossword square.



Copyright Simon Banks 2012

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  1. Poignant! Someone else’s grief could just end up as an inconvenience…

  2. Oh this is so sad, both the poem and the introduction..


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