Our town is criss-crossed by rail lines. Visitors who stay here sometimes say they cannot sleep because of the train whistles in the night. Locals can’t hear the sounds – we’re so used to it. I wrote this one after a busy weekend at the theater working tech crew for The Wizard of Oz.
People come and go so quickly here
Nothing seems strange under these skies,
even a thousand tons of steel rolling through the
back yard. Like cancer or good fortune,
the dull grinding is so familiar we do not hear it.
In the old days, housewives would rush outside
on days like this, to pull the laundry
when the wind changed so their
linens wouldn’t turn black.
Oblivious, my grandfather would rush to the station,
bags falling open for his latest trip
while the great iron horse strained
between its traces on the Main St crossing.
Tonight, Colin and his lover are steaming upstairs
while the rest of us are sacked out on the couch,
words slurred and walls swaying in time.
And none of us thinks this strange.
But the trains keep rolling, the soot
turning in the sky like a Kansas storm,
and I know I must leave the warmth
of this hearth, but only after I sleep some more,
lulled by the rocking of the room, the
cares of the day, the wheels and rails,
the song of the night as the eleven-fifty-five
waits on Main Street. And my bags are barely packed.