TRAIN TO THE KWAE BRIDGE BY GREG FREEMAN
Online - 17 August 2020
TRAIN TO THE KWAE BRIDGE
Bananas, palms, rice fields; jolting train
takes three hours from Bangkok.
Jet-tired, we get out at the stop before.
Taxi tout spots our bewilderment
Whisks us away for a crazy sum.
We pay him off, shake off his guided tour.
The train still runs over rebuilt spans; you take
a picture to show my mum. I walk across,
along the tracks. David Lean, Alec Guinness
Hollywood version for a post-war audience.
Wind in the middle. Try to imagine it,
look down at the water, through the gaps.
Back in the town a new museum
restores faces to the cemetery rows.
We always fought about socialism; he talked
about the jungle, knowing what men could do.
Singapore, surrender, monsoon, disease:
beriberi, cholera, malaria, dysentery.
That’s when I lose it, writing in the visitors’ book:
“My father worked on this railway.”
by Greg Freeman
"Greg Freeman's father was a prisoner of war of the Japanese, from the fall of Singapore in early 1942 until liberation in 1945. Ted Freeman worked on the notorious 'death railway' in Thailand, which claimed more than 100,000 Allied lives. This poem appears in Greg Freeman's collection Trainspotters, published by Indigo Dreams."
Train to the Kwae Bridge