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On A Train by Wendy Cope

On A Train
Wendy Cope

The book I’ve been reading
rests on my knee. You sleep.

It’s beautiful out there—
fields, little lakes and winter trees
in February sunlight,
every car park a shining mosaic.

Long radiant minutes,
your hand in my hand,
still warm, still warm.


Life has been happening lately, as it is wont to do. I’ve been sick for a while, which is nothing new—but I’ve been keeping my head above water and embracing being loved despite feeling like I don’t deserve it. Now that’s new.

I know I can’t wait until I know who I am to make things. So I’ve just been rolling forward, unfurling like a yarn that has fallen onto the floor. The more my doubts pull me back the more I unravel.

It’s amazing what I can find at the core of myself once I accept that there’s love waiting for me. Have you found it, too—the hand held out for you?

If I Don’t Know by Wendy CopeSOURCE

This poem appeared in If I Don’t Know by Wendy Cope, published by Faber and Faber, 2001. Shared here with deep gratitude.


“The comic brilliance and formal skills which propelled Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis and Serious Concerns into the bestseller lists are much in evidence here. But a softer, lyrical voice, also present in the earlier books, is given more room to develop in poems about gardens and contentment and the poignancy of having something to lose.”


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Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light.

Comments (1)

  • P

    Dear T, I found the hand held out for me and it is still warm.
    Thanks for sharing this poem


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