by Peter Blair
I am off-kilter, coasting perpendicular to the upright, ninety degrees in the shade. Everything is grey. The seatbacks are headstones; the antimacassars are embroidered with dates of lovers I’ve never had. A melancholy love song, crooned in a voice I almost recognize, loops over the tannoy. As we curve into the mountains, I lose sight of the river and do not know if we have crossed the frontier. Patting myself down for travel documents, I find a stub that bears no seat or carriage number, date or time, departure point or destination. Each page of the passport plucked from the breast pocket of my shirt is blank. I will not know how to explain myself to the ticket inspector and border guard, whose languages I may not speak. I have no currency for a bribe. I stow myself in the luggage rack, but am in plain sight, my buttocks bulging through the elasticated mesh. As I try to squirm free, my feet become entangled and cannot be extricated. I will have to throw myself on the mercy of the officials, as an innocent abroad. The low-fi love lyric is an earworm burrowing into my head: something about an interventionist God. Across pastures and ravines, the shadowtrain lengthens and shortens, rises and falls. I am off-kilter. Everything is grey.