Five Minutes on a Midland Train

As the 12.19 to Smethwick Rolfe Street
pulls away from platform 5 she notices
it, the gobbet of matter stuck to

the grey canvas uppers of her British Knights
baseball boots. She takes a moment
to identify its properties. Mustard dollop

dropped from a hot dog she doesn’t recall eating?
Some hawked up yellow horror? She back tracks
to last night’s Slimming World salad,

the hap-hazard chopping of pepper,
pineapple, red onion, mint and…bingo,
it’s mango! She stares hard at it and knows

there’s a decision to be made about
wiping off or leaving on, about
being bothered or not. And in that carriage

in the July heat the balance between
taking a pride and letting things slide hangs.
At 12.24 the train reaches Coseley.
She is clean booted. In five minutes a lot
can be decided about mangos,
about life, about death, about carrying on

– Emma Purshouse. This poem was Commended in the 2016 Competition

Emma Purshouse is a freelance writer and performance poet. She performs her work at spoken word events and festivals across the country. Her appearances include: The Cheltenham Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Solfest and Much Wenlock Poetry Festival.

Emma has been published in a variety of small press magazines and poetry anthologies. A CD of her work, entitled Upsetting the Applecart, was released by Offa’s Press in 2010 More recently Emma has collaborated with poets Iris Rhodes and Marion Cockin on a shared collection called The Nailmakers’ Daughters, also published by Offa’s Press.

In 2016, Emma had a collection of her children’s poetry published by Fair Acre Press. The book, I Once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat, is beautifully illustrated by Catherine Pascall Moore, and it went on to win the poetry section of the Rubery Book Award in the same year.