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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Leaving Vigo

With sad and friendly eyes she answers yes
when I ask if Santiago trains are on.
Seventy-five fatalities, or more:
 un accidente horrible - she nods.
A message wishes us a pleasant trip,                                                  
the carriage has an eerie muffled mood,
its notice says 130 km per hour,
we read our newspapers and phones, subdued.
I see Camino pilgrims stumbling,
their spirits springing up from bloody rails;
fresh donations from Gallegos streaming
through some survivors’ arteries and veins.
The train conductor doesn’t meet my gaze.
At journey’s end we disembark with haste.

© Maeve O’Sullivan

Spanish train crash: Galicia derailment kills 78

Maeve O’Sullivan works as a media lecturer in Dublin. She has published her poems and haiku widely. Her first haiku collection, Initial Response, was launched by Alba Publishing in 2011. www.twitter.com/maeveos


  1. Beautiful sonnet, Maeve. The rhythm, language and restraint heighten the elegiac mood and the isolation of each individual within the mourning crowd.
    Breda Wall Ryan

    1. Thank you, Ms. Wall Ryan!

    2. Well said, Breda. I agree. Congrats on this poem being nominated for the Forward Prize, Maeve!

  2. A tragic event sympathetically and poetically marked.

  3. A sombre mood perfectly captured.

    1. Thanks Little Nell. I'm usually wary about writing 'news poems' - for a few reasons - but that experience last week was too compelling not to write about. Sad to think there have been similar crashes in Italy and Switzerland since then.