Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Stopped Train (A Poem)

At the far end of our yard, 
     a chain link fence
Scaled by errant morning 
Beyond it, a no man’s land
Strewn with crushed beer 
     cans that glinted in the 
Then, the lake that shared
     its name with our street.

On the lake’s far shore,
A weave of pruned firs and 
     power lines
That opened just wide enough to 
     admit a further view.

And while we couldn’t see the train tracks
That nearly grazed the lake’s far edge,
We could always hear the low vibrations of trains
Long before they came into view--
Even when the kids taking sailing lessons
Called loud from boat to boat.

Always we hoped for freight trains
That would flash and click, flash and click,
Then rumble long after we’d picked up
The dolls and games and crayons
We’d put aside to watch
The length of them pass.

One day, a train didn’t pass, but stopped.
One car filled the whole space between the trees. 

It just sat there,
Sizzling in the thick summer heat,
Sometimes hissing, maybe exhaling,
Definitely baking. 

We’d had a babysitter who’d told us about trains
That took kids from their parents,
Some to the country so they wouldn’t die,
Some to the country so they would.

So when kids’ voices pierced
Late afternoon’s muffling heat,
We wondered if they were coming
From that listless train car,
Or from the dock where kids were lowering sails
Before heading home for supper.

“Come on in. It’s time to eat,” called a voice we knew.
And so we obeyed.

Later, when we went out 
The train was gone.
It must have slipped away
During dinner’s clatter and 
Though we'd finally made it
     ours .

We looked for it, 
Then at each other,
Then looked for it again. 
And when we couldn't decide
What to play,
We went inside earlier than usual
And didn't argue about going to bed.

* First photo: De, T. (2016, September 10). Ranch ups and downs [Web log post]. Retrieved February 07, 2018, from Photograph URL:
** Second photo: screen shot of
*** Third photo: Screen shot of