Upon hearing an approaching train one morning–and for no good reason except I felt silly–I walked over to the newest addition to our family, a dwarf hampster named William, and said in a low voice, “William, wake yourself. A train approaches. It brings death. Arm yourself, now! William, awaken!”
William poked his head out from his bedding, sniffed the air, and glanced at me. He didn’t seem terribly worried. My oldest son stirred in his said said, “What did you say?”
The notion of the “death train” stayed with me and inspired this poem.
I was of a grisly humor the morning Patrick
floated on gin fumes into my room and urged
me to arm myself, the train was coming,
bringing death, we had to make haste, secure
the house, defend our sister and mother, prepare
to fight a score of men hellbent on bloodshed.
I shook off Patrick’s pale hand. There was no train,
bringing death or anything else…there was just
our shattered lives, the clatter of the day and slow
onset of evening, the sunset stretching out like
the glowing arms of God, strong but distant, burning
out as night settled in the foothills and mountains…
and suddenly I heard a train whistle carve away the silence.