I have a thing for trains. This much is true. I love the romance of them, the way they lumber through the world’s countrysides, towns and cities. I’d like to believe that our country could build high speed rail lines from one end to the next, up and down our coasts. But I’m sure it won’t happen in my lifetime the way things are going. Our country is too reliant on cars, wasting energy, and not thinking ahead. Once, my friend Drake and I rode a train in Taiwan, our feet dangling from the open cargo door, tickets already sold for all of the regular seats. It was an extraordinary journey thirty years ago. I was a little in love.
Under every light and banner of night,
trains thrum, sound rises to
meet the day, bouncing back and forth
from earth to sky until it reaches
an ear trained for something else altogether.
Absence makes the now palpable, unforgiving.
Tracks wind into distance; a boy sure of his love
jumps the car to find it. Sharp pangs
drive him toward the one thing he needs.
And every folk song ever written,
guitar strum and wailing voice,
reaches back in time through the night.
Whistles for loved ones the train’s iron knows nothing of.
Nothing but steel wheels, locomotion,
steam rising in clouds.
Going forward is it’s own reward.
The leap, the air, the heart.