A Three Year Old Girl


A Three-Year Old Girl
McAdam Railway Station #3

“I often see her, walking around,
standing in a doorway,
looking into a room.

She’s very curious
but never says a word.
Doesn’t ask questions.

She’s not scary at all,
like some of the others.

There are rooms here
where people won’t go
if they’re alone.

But they mean no harm,
these broken ghosts.

They’re lost, nowhere
else to go, I guess.
Just missed the last train”

Comment: Another story from Elsie, who says she often sees this young child in one room or another. The station is indeed filled with many memories and you can feel warm and cold presences throughout the building. Some rooms are filled with foreboding, while others are warm and comforting. Many old buildings have these qualities as do the old iron age walled camps scattered around the south of England. Maiden Castle and Badbury Rings spring to mind, as do Westbury White Horse, Corfe Castle and parts of Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. Do I believe in ghosts? I echo the words of my mentor and fellow-countryman, Dylan Thomas: “I’d be a fool if I didn’t.”


McAdam Railway Station 2

“Fourteen years old, he was.
Left school to work at the station.
Pushed brooms, did the cleaning.

Walked into the men’s washroom
early one morning to give it a clean.
Found a man hanging there, dead.

Took out his pocket knife,
cut him down, called for help.

I met him at the station
when he was ninety-three.

He told me all about it,
shrunk in size he did
as he told his story, shrunk

until he was the same size
he was at fourteen.”

Another story from Elsie, one of the guides at the McAdam Railway Station and the President of the Macadam Historical Association. A true historian, she is gifted with an uncanny ability to condense a remembered incident into a minimum of poetic words. Thank you, Elsie, for allowing me to access your memory and repeat what you told me. It is an honor and a pleasure to do so.

Call Girl

IMG_0783 (2)

Call Girl
McAdam Railway Station 1

“She came down from Montreal
to look after all the railway workers.
We called her the Call Girl.”
The men in the room sit up
and pay attention. The women
look rather expectant.

“She was a great worker,
performed her duties willingly.
Up at four in the morning,
out into the streets,
knocking on the men’s doors,
waking them up for work
with her morning call.

We called her the Call Girl
because it was her vocation.
she was called to call.”

I visited McAdam Railway Station last week, a Canadian National Heritage Site. The guides who were there, many of them members of the local historical society, were well-versed in tales of the station and the people who used to pass through there. I listened to their words with great care, admiring the quality of their images and speech, the terseness and accuracy of their words. This sequence of poems is based upon those people, excellent guides and raconteurs in the best sense of the word. These are their words, not mine, and with their permission, I am posting their stories here. The first poem was spoken by Elsie. Thank you so much, Elsie, for allowing me to share your words. Click this link to the McAdam Railway Station site if you want to see some great photos and read about the history of the McAdam Railway Station.