Train 172

The tight white hair
upon his chocolate skull
looks mostly like cotton.

He is neither pierced nor marked
by the time gone,
just old in years collected

and his full head of history
stretching from ear to ear
from Montgomery to Birmingham

and those forty acres where the mule
of his memory still pulls strongly
going North now through Winter

where the fields are also white
beneath a different kind of pain:
the tight white hair

upon his chocolate skull
looks mostly like cotton
now.

(I came here from Devon, that’s to say I spent my last month in England at my parent’s house overlooking the estuary and the unemployed. They have a train there which I often took to visit them from London, and thus, not having taken trains since arriving in New York, this journey to Philadelphia reminds me of home. It’s the trees by the tracks, the telegraph poles, the occasional men working in fluorescent orange jackets, the still bloodshot eyes reflected in this window, the block stone bridges, stranded houses in ploughed up fields, and places like “Princeton Junction” where another train rushes closely the other way and only people with their heads inside the window survive.)

[1995]

 

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