First Journey
by Roger Craik

As inch by inch the train pulled out

with me inside alone,

I saw my mother in her fifties skirt

and black-rimmed glasses and dark coat

watching still,

and then, as if to race the train,

my father running after me

not as an athlete would

or fathers of my friends at school,

but stroking, pressing down the air

with the heels of his hands and then with his palms

like some great cat with padded paws.


And all that afternoon through hours of fields

and towns whose names lodge with me still,

I saw him in my mind’s eye running thus

beyond the platform’s end and then beside the rails

on stony ground, on straggling grass,

outdistanced, and outdistanced further still.

* * * * *

(c) 2009 by Roger Craik, all rights reserved, used with his permission

We gratefully acknowledge Finishing Line Press,
publishers of Roger Craik’s
Of England Still, where this poem appears.

Roger Craik, Associate Professor of English at Kent State University Ashtabula, has written four full-length poetry books – I Simply Stared (2002), Rhinoceros in Clumber Park (2003), The Darkening Green (2004), and, most recently, Those Years (2007), nominated for a Pushcart Prize and translated into Bulgarian in 2009. His poetry has appeared in several national poetry journals, such as The Formalist, Fulcrum, The Literary Review and, most recently, The Atlanta Review.  His latest book, Of England Still, is now available from Finishing Line Press.


English by birth and educated at the universities of Reading and Southampton, Craik has worked as a journalist, TV critic and chess columnist. Before coming to the USA in 1991, he worked in Turkish universities and was awarded a Beineke Fellowship to Yale in 1990. He is widely traveled, having visited North Yemen, Egypt, South Africa, Tibet, Nepal, Japan, and, most recently, Bulgaria, where he taught during spring 2007 on a Fulbright Scholarship.


Poetry is his passion: he writes for at least an hour, over coffee, each morning before breakfast, and he enjoys watching the birds during all the seasons.