Railtracks is a collaboration between John Berger and Anne Michaels, two writers of remarkable achievement. Their sensual and exploratory dialogue is accompanied by my own photographs, documenting a journey by narrow gauge train through the winter landscapes of Southern Bohemia, which I took on the day of a winter solstice, in 2007.
J. The whistle, the incomparable sound of the railcars beginning to move, their great weight waking.
A. I dreamed for weeks of your arrival in a station with a glass roof, and waited for you there, imagining the moment your face would emerge from the small crowd of passengers disembarking. How your face would be changed by all those hours of travelling towards me.
Your battered and bulging leather case, your sweater I can smell and feel on my own bare arms even now. With us on the platform were sometimes many others, sometimes only a few, but always we found each other with the same brief intensity: every reunion a miracle, a restoration. The gasp of home. You carried a local delicacy each time in your bag, some small, chosen gift, a stone, an apple, flowers, a photograph, transposed hundreds of miles, as if you would bring a bit of your earth to me with each meeting; as if, over the months, you would bring your place to mine, one handful at a time.
Impossible now to think of train travel without a kind of tenderness – as if that is what love is: arrival after arrival. And the same dark truth – the solitary place we arrive from each time.
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