Train of Thought
I finally give in to memory while waiting for a train
to pass at the entrance to my hometown.
This bridge, these tracks—here, we cross them every day.
As a child, they became my stanzas.
I never didn’t wonder where they led.
I’ve never really found out, either.
I make myself think about the freckled girl
who died here trying to outrun one,
her twin brother watching as her body exploded,
his permanent shell-shock, shell of a boy,
how the town should’ve built a new way in
for the family, a bridge over all of her blood.
Then I think of blood. Then I think of the quarter
I wanted to flatten here once, ten years old,
my mother’s bloodless go ahead, her rarity laugh.
Where I’m from, the cautionary tales abound
for little girls walking home from school:
The Mountain Man will get you. The merciless trains.
Your mother is waiting, run along now.
The toll for leaving this place is a flattened quarter.
Wherever there are trains, there is my memory,
damsel tied to the tracks.