Another one by trillwing. . .
Usually the row of Gothic brick buildings
amplified the train’s horn as rock valleys do,
but that night we didn’t hear the horn, only the clacking
of grain cars with their giant funnels, the tanks
of corn syrup and ethanol. There was no sign
of the kernel-yellow engines, and no hint of an end—
only bells at the intersection, the rhythmic thuds and screeches
of wheels and track compromising,
the track sinking into earth, the train passing on
but not passing us. In the spaces between cars
we saw the figures of people waiting,
like us, to cross. Their silhouettes were unfinished,
framed by distant lights of varying brilliance.
We could almost see through them.
We knew the track ended at the southern edge of town,
behind Wal-Mart, by the grain elevators.
There had been times when a long train
sliced the town in two. I’d walked
more than a mile around it to visit friends.
But that evening, not knowing its ends, we waited
for the long corn train, the sidewalk rumbling
hungrily beneath our shifting weight.
Above us, the bare cottonwoods
rationed the sky into graspable pieces.
The crowd grew with the minutes until one woman,
hoarse-voiced, her hundred braids and two active hands
swaddled in the first scarf and gloves of the season,
spoke above the train. She said, What if your double
were on the other side and was dying, crumpling there,
and no medics could come—you could only watch?
From there the tale grew among us: the Town
of the Perpetual Train, the families never meeting,
half the citizens without fire trucks, half without mail.
People might dig tunnels, build bridges, learn not to hear
the trains, just as, caught up in our own stories,
we don’t hear the roaring stars and the winds of hurtling Earth,
even on clear nights, when—because we have places to be—
we’re forced to consider our crossing.