When I was born I was hardened and human.
I moved and rose and became a residence.
The trains went by on rusty wheels gently
Burning into the ground and I gently
Burned into the world. When I gazed at the cars
Up close I felt the layers of cold
And sleep. It was still and the mist clung
To the floors. I think I can remember smoke
Hissing from the sky. The train remarked
On men from the old days: time was a steamy
Pocket where they lived and smoked and when
The cold crept in the cabins and the party
Was over and the man with a hump was
Crying he couldn’t remember his name …
I know how far one must go, smoke and steel
Into the drained world only to return in tears.
The train grinds through waste and is sick and filled
With the instants of flies. There is nothing
As nude as a train reflecting November snow
Or stopping in heat. All through the desert
It sees the needy towns, the sober economy
Of dust. It is not giving and its sayings
Press into the heart. The train is old
And bitter, its wisdom is born from pain,
And when the man in Arkansas begins
To scream and shake, and the bones of flies are
Scattered in the gardens, and the hills wake up
In their skins under the light and they’re covered
With jingling verbena, and I’m hurt
By the size of things: out of the fog
The train comes, beautiful and shamed,
And it is an orchestra of hard light and I know
It will be light. I love the train.
When I was born I was furnished with a body
And a mind, clothes, rooms and doors.
The train burned by, radiant and haunting,
In waves and I recognized how I could
Want, how the first motion is of breaking
And changing until one wants only love
And peace and one is tired. Look out into
What we are given which is a moment
Which is almost proof: the jaws of the train
Are filled with the fumes of misery
And when at night it blazes by I feel
A great joy that runs through the field and is gone.