Friday, May 19, 2017

Evening Train

Today's poem is heavy with memories ... from  a summer evening many, many years ago.

While the evening described was certainly a low point of my young life, it was not to be the end of the line, as I indicate in the poem ... and as events have since confirmed.

I'll never forget that feeling of emptiness, abandonment, of having certainly hit bottom ... all because I had won a college scholarship, with its promise of good things ahead, but I didn't even have bus fare to get to the campus.

There seemed no way to turn, no way to escape, as I sat there alone on that darkened front porch ...

But then I enlisted in the Air Force, saved some money, and eventually began college - not, incidentally, the one where I'd had a scholarship and the offer of help with finding part-time work, "once you arrive on campus."

The rest, as they say, is history ... thanks to some hard work ... and a lot of help along the way.

I also remember the feeling of relief, of a load finally having been lifted from me, all these years later, after I had written this poem.

So, you see, poetry - the writing of it, or the effort put into trying to write it - can be good therapy.

The poem:


The swing’s creaking
heartbeat held me
captive in the dark

as I sat watching
those lighted cars
swaying up the grade,

green trackside eye
blinking to red,
a clear sign to me,

believer in signs
and good fortune,
that my young dreams

had finally melted
into that S-curve,
vanished in darkness,

and there would be
no college, not even
bus fare to get there.

It seems so long ago,
such a vague memory
now, scar fading like

a distant whistle,
that evening train
somewhere, echoing,

reminding me that
I finally escaped,
became who I am,

but never escaped
who I was then.

© 2000

(originally published in Waterways)

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