Poem: This tram is pig-headed

In today’s Poet’s Corner, Martha Landman again reflects on Adelaide’s much-in-the-news trams, as well as on times past remembered while aboard them.

Feb 21, 2018, updated Feb 21, 2018
Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

This tram is pig-headed

It goes slow when I want fast
and fast when I want slow.
It takes its time, doesn’t match my haste,
leaves before my eyes
when I puff up to it in rush hour,
sweaty, bags billowing on my arm,
hand touching the door as it takes off.
It laughs in my face.

Has it not set its speedometer
to the relevance of time,
to go slow
when I want to read
and savour the trip or speed when I run late?

Outside, people jog and walk and slog
to their own rhythm and here we are
inside, ears and hands attached
to mobile phones,
eyes buried in iPads.
Only the odd book is read.

It’s then I remember parents’ hushed
tones on the old party line phone
stuck to the wall, white skin on black
in those apartheid years in the Transvaal:
a church elder caught sleeping with the maid
It wasn’t what he did that concerned
me as a child, but that he got caught!
Oh, the fear of being found out! Followed
by drama in the public gallery, the questions,
the lifted brows, cross examinations
extracting the admission – “bad girl!”

But this tram is pig-headed, it takes me
to places I don’t want to go, interrupts
my reading, my Zen-like thinking, accuses me
of things that I wished I’d never done.
I want my harmony back!

Martha Landman was born and raised in South Africa. She moved to Townsville in Queensland in 2000, from where she came to Adelaide in 2015. After more than two years here, she is still fascinated by Adelaide’s weather and her travels on its trams. She is a member of Friendly Street Poets and her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies in Australia, the UK and US. As a practising psychologist, she says her poems are inspired by people and nature. Her first tram poem for InDaily Poet’s Corner can be found here.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to [email protected]. Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.
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