In Midland still the trains go by.
The black smoke thunders on the sky.
Still in the grass the lovers lie.
And cheek on cheek and sigh on sigh
They dream and weep as you and I,
In Midland where the trains go by.
Across the bridge, across the town.
The workers hurry up and down.
The pub still stands, the publican
Is still a gross, corrupted man.
And bottles clinking in the park
Make symphonies of summer dark.
Across the bridge the stars go down,
Our two ghosts meet across the town.
Who dared so much must surely creep
Between young lovers lips, asleep.
Who dared so much much surely live
In train-smoke off the Midland bridge.
In Midland, in the railway yards,
They shuffle time like packs of cards
And kings and queens and jacks go down.
But we come up in Midland town.
O factory girls in cotton slips
And men with grease across your lips.
Let kings and queens and jacks go down
But we’ll still kiss in Midland town.
An oath, a whisper and a laugh.
Will make our better epitaph.
We’ll share a noggin in the park
And whistle songs against the dark.
There is no death that we can die
In Midland, where the trains go by.
In Midland Where the Trains Go By | 1959 | Dorothy Hewett
Dorothy Hewett was born in Perth, in 1923 and grew up on a farm in the wheatbelt area until being sent to Perth to finish her schooling. She joined the Communist Party in 1946 and was active in their volunteering work. She moved to Sydney, with her second husband and young family, where she worked in a spinning mill and wrote under a pseudonym for the Communist Party paper.
When this marriage also ended she moved back to Perth in 1958 to take up a teaching post at the University of Western Australia.
Hewett left the Communist Party after the 1968 uprising in Prague. She was an atheist all her life. She often challenged the social, sexual, religious and political norms of her time.
She died in 2002 in the Blue Mountains of NSW.
Hewett’s writing is about freedom and equality, linked with a deep respect for the vagaries of the individual.
I chose this Poem For a Thursday in preparation for Bill’s Gen III Australian Women Writer’s week from the 12th – 18th January.