Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rail-way Back-track

Once, long before the thought of counting years
crossed my mind
I walked here, counting railway ties
soaked in sweat, tar-drenched sunbeams
And dreams,
blue eyes scanning the line where skies
and the impossible met
in passions unrealized.
I didn’t know the meaning of regret
The sumac still burns red in the purple autumn dusk
Supple breeze teases the stalwart cattail.
Choke cherry and mountain ash flaunt fruits of tempting betrayal
and in the stillness I can almost feel the thrilling and ominous
humming of steel on steel, sparks grazing the earth below
in a blazing shower of golden snow. Little girl,
tuck that hand-stitched quilt beneath your chin. Don’t cry.
The train is not really lonely at night
as it hurries by, with its long and plaintive cry.
Progress has taken it all away.
No longer feasible, is what they say,
tearing away labor, sweat and tears of the past
with labor, sweat and tears of the present.
Eyes look to the future,
and where once I counted railway ties to the sky,
now corn-fields sigh and twilight gleams upon the echo
of a young girl's dreams. Mother, tuck that hand-stitched quilt
beneath your chin. Don’t cry. Little girls still dream out to the big sky.
An attempt at free-verse, hidden rhyme, sort of…

I have not done very much traveling in my life...yet:) my initial reaction, when I saw this prompt was 'not for me', but the more I thought about it the more I realized how often a smell, a sound, a season, triggers a memory, a re-visit to those places near and dear to the heart. Last week on one of the poetry sites the prompt was 'trains'. I would have loved to try it, but could not remember where I saw the prompt. I loved watching the train pass through the back of our property.I loved its long approach on a quiet winter night, the anticipation, a thrilling rush of fear and excitement at the first distant moan, oh, so very faint, then increasing, increasing to a thundering rush of steel and whistle and bells, reaching a crescendo,then fading, fading, fading....until all was silence once more, still gives me goose-bumps. I think this is why I thought of the railway track today...

This photo is not the actual track but I thought it portrayed perfectly my memory...the picture is found at above link.


  1. Janet ~ I loved this one ~ your words could've been thoughts of a woman who lived over a hundred years ago. Timeless, and beautiful!

    I also loved your recollection of the train... we were just on train tracks to take some of my brother's wedding photos... the perspective and light in the image you selected to accompany this poem is so perfect. Thank you for sharing your gift!!

  2. Thank-you Megan,
    Yes, there is a timeless romance
    in trains and tracks.
    Wow, I am sure those photos will be stunning!

    Maybe you will find a creative way to 'use' them???:)

  3. Hmm... we'll see :) One thing I have to say is, walking the tracks while in 5" silver heels is not something I'd recommend! ;)


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