All the tiny abandoned halts along the Irwell
have been re-opened, their clocks
set ticking. And everyone
but not yet everyone:
across the bridge, past the terraced cottages
a last couple appear, he in khaki,
she in a red print dress, her blond hair
There is a whistle in the valley.
Huffs of smoke move this way across the fields
like dropped clouds
and they start to run, holding hands
or try to run in her impossible heels
down the steep street, back
to where the others are already waiting
on the platform.
It happens so quickly
that the parting is over
before they know it is a parting.
The whistle comes again
and a shiver,
the ground trembling in anticipation.