True Love on the Bankstown Line

A photograph of a trainline at night, with a city in the distance.

By Caoimhe Hanrahan-Lawrence

I fall in love anew each morning. New infatuations come like seasonal fruits And leave just the same; Shrivelling on the vines, Growing fuzzy with mould, turning bitter On the tongue. They are sweet but fleeting And I pick from the same tree But never taste the same fruit twice. 

And yet she is the same. I know her by her calling card. She signals me with train doors, A bus seat, the horn of a passing ferry. I memorise her fingers, their too-tight grasps on tickets, The lazy sprawl of her handbag in the afternoon. She has different hair, a new coat, darker skin, Freckles, But she is always the same. I know it in the way she leaves. 

Sometimes we look at each other, my lover and I. Maybe we share a smile, exchange a word. An apology. Sorry. Excuse me. My bad. We apologise too much, my lover and I; Both scared to take up too much space. The smiles are tight, polite, The kind we’d look prettier if we wore more. 

I think she’s beautiful when she scowls, my lover. I love her frowning over her crossword, Face lined in concentration. She’ll have wrinkles one day, thought lines That I’ll follow with a finger tip in the early morning, A record player playing the valleys of her skin. 

We plan things like that, the two of us. Quiet nights in with our dogs, Brunch with friends, laughing, drinking, 

And crying, sometimes. I take her home, make her dinner, hold her hand, But my mind stills when my hand brushes the bedroom door. That is too much, each time. We part ways then. Say tender goodbyes. I cannot cross that threshold with her, Even in my dreams. 

She tells me she loves me. I hear it every day. She says it with her shoes, her bus pass, Her legs climbing the stairs. She says “I love you” in her leaving, Louder than any speech could ever be. She is at her loveliest when she walks away, When she moves from waking into sleep, Out of my eyesight and into my dreams. 

I love her for a train trip. I love her for my whole life. I could not love her any less. Because I need her to leave me, my love. We need an expiry date, a best before. I am at peace when she leaves, Because I am no longer sucking her dry. I am no longer ravenous, monstrous in my hunger. There is much of the animal in me, Of a scavenger, a beast. 

Gone, she cannot be frightened by my hunger, Nor disturbed by the wildness of my affections. She cannot hunt me, skin me, Mount my head upon her wall. Triumphant. I have slain the monster that stalks our streets. 

I don’t know for certain that she would want to, But I know I would let her if she did And that is why she must go. 

I love my lover on the morning train. My new lover, my forever lover, My ripe and apricot-sweet lover. I am mad with need for her, And mad with the need for her to leave. 

I am joyous when we are cyclical, Safe in the boundaries of my mind. 

I will let it lay like this. I will let it stay like this. I am wild and she is free.