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Winter Train Ride
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The train takes off down the track to hurry me back
to where I began. Noise and steam
crescendo to soprano range, houses and town
build their rhythm as we gather speed
for the long-distance run. I have been up all night,
traveling on trains, and now, I am on the last leg
of a journey back to bury my father.

Rows of stubble in the fields race by like the years.
Dense clusters of conifers are so dark they highlight
the reflection of my solitary face in the fogged
train window. I rub a circle in the steam with my sleeve
to see a frozen lake slide by.

Farms and villages pass in intermittent wisps.
Gardens sleep under a film of snow and an upturned boat
waits for a warmer day. How my father loved to go out
in boats, even though he couldn’t swim. I remember him
rowing through a roiling sea, his body and the boat rising
and falling with the waves.

An abandoned swing shifts in the wind. He made
my childhood swing, burying concrete blocks
deep in the ground to anchor it firmly in the back yard
of a house we lived in only a few years.

Electrical towers with Siva arms hold up looping lines,
canopy the landscape for a flock of starlings that rise
to scree silently and wheel out of sight. When I was small,
he pressed me one-handed high above his head, swore
it would be time to die when he couldn’t do it anymore.

A dilapidated tool shed gapes through its half-open door.
A lumberyard drifts past, cluttered with logs,
disarrayed like my tired mind. I could barely toddle
when I held up tools and boards, proud to help him
with his household projects.

I gulp the scenery as the train nears the finish line.
A last silo looms large by a barn before it slips away,
along with a stop sign on a deserted road.
Larger than life, people said of him, larger than life.

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