I noticed you before you spoke;
two tanned hands with liver-spots,
clutching an enormous suitcase on wheels.
Your pearls were classic,
your shoes sensible.
I wondered where you had been.
The tannoy ding-donged
to tell us we were now approaching Chalkwell;
please mind the gap when getting off the train
at the next station.
I saw you, uneasy, as the train rocked
and I knew I would help you.
You looked at me and said,
peeking round men's besuited arms,
"Will you help me, love?"
I said of course. We smiled.
Then a man coughed so loudly that you jumped.
We rolled into the station and you clutched my elbow,
like I did to my mother
in supermarkets, as a child.
The train stopped. I pushed the flashing button
and lugged your giant suitcase down the step.
You creaked your way on to the platform,
and I held out my arm for you. You said,
"Thank you, love," and I had you on one arm
and your suitcase in the other.
We were driftwood in a sea of suits.
The staircase was a mountain
that we scaled together,
your suitcase, you and me.