Caught by the River

Shadows on the Barley: a poem by Robert Selby

Robert Selby | 3rd June 2017

When our train goes over the river
sending all the bridge bats aquiver
into the pink evening;

when the poplar’s shadow on the barley
is not wanting for company
and the castle turret is gleaming,

it’s time for that part of the day,
a few hours at least, that we can say
are ours. The train slows down

into the freedom beyond the tunnel,
into the redbrick commuter town
where we can peel off our office flannel,

excited like kids home from school,
flinging windows wide, excitable
for the kettle’s click, the shower,

for the can’s nozzle in every flower;
then you, in your PJs already,
post-shower bob a glorious melee,

feet up on the kitchen table reading
the paper you didn’t get to
on the morning train because, again,

we had slumped together in sleep,
in a jerking, dribbling heap,
dreaming of shadows on the barley.


‘Shadows on the Barley’ appears in Robert’s new pamphlet, which is No. 19 in Clutag Press’s Five Poems series. Buy a copy here.

Robert Selby on Caught by the River/on Twitter