On the Transylvania night train, sixteen coaches long,
a man in denims hand-dyed pollen yellow
played Elvis on his ghetto-blaster as he mimed the words.

He might have glimpsed the King in the fractured glass
of waiting rooms of towns we passed straight through,
transfigured in his rhinestones and great white suit,

so lonely he could die like the last snow
as the mountains melted to the slush of a low dawn
and the train accelerated into silence.

Travelling to a faith healer in the city
without a ticket, at Ploiesti he was turned out
to a waiting crowd and the permafrost of dead loss;

behind him on waste ground a tractor troubled up birds
light as ash in its slow wake. As we pulled away
I looked back at an empty platform of blue smoke;

and when the guard had passed, he reappeared
jubilant in his seat as the long black train
threaded us through the eye of distance into Graceland.

Advertisements