Suddenly a Train Passes Where Recently No Tracks Were Seen

(Or, Once Again a Woman Experiences Illogical Emotions)

Not unnaturally, this train comes as a surprise
knocked off my feet by a transparent monster of air
roaring by on either side of the flying boxcars,
Southern Pacific blurring past in a clatter and scream
of metal against metal, wood and exhaust and earth and
me and the inexorable rush of inertia
something splinters
cracks rivule down my arms like spiders
as the heart’s tempo switches with no transitional riffs ―
now we are in 7/8 time and none of the muscles
know the key. Now fury bubbles out of my skin
without proper name or determinate cause, and the shards
are as big as tectonic plates shifting
against my ribs. It takes a few minutes to notice
the train has split me in two and the leading lady
wears the haggard face of jealousy, the toothless grin
of demand and claim, feet turned in
with self-pity and hands clenching like the claws
of a sick bird while the other me follows behind,
alternately laughing and pleading

Trains, experience tells us, are not indefinite
(except while they last) and the silence tumbling behind
flips gently before hovering an inch above the ground,
leaving my two halves staring
at each other’s dirty faces
across those stereotypical sunlit dust motes
settling softly to the ground, the newly lain rails
running quietly out to the horizon line
I wonder who ―
once I have mended and merged again ―
will come out on top, which half
closest to the re-sewn skin
this time
and whether I will one day be carried away
on the steely jaws of the cow-catcher,
disappearing into the previously unnoticed distance
and leaving no recognizable self behind.

 

PoemPhoto16

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