Teri White Carns
The Twilight Limited
My sister and I sleep in old iron beds, narrow, painted white, next to the second story windows. Not far away – over the creek, up the hill, next to the pond with frogs and dragonflies – trains rumble through night and day, binding our small Midwest town to the factories, the coasts, the corn fields. I know their names: The Twilight Limited. The Zephyr. Super-Chief. City of San Francisco. The Midnight Special. The Wabash Cannonball. I know the names of the railroads: Burlington Northern. Union Pacific. Rock Island Line. Baltimore and Ohio. I know where they go: Poughkeepsie. Chattanooga. Kalamazoo. Topeka. Omaha. Santa Fe. Pasadena, where my Great-aunt Mary lives with peach roses that scent the California air all winter long.
I wash the day’s dishes for the family of nine, and imagine myself on the train. Maybe the circus train: there is an elephant (only one, it’s a small circus), and I am the apprentice trapeze artist with not a dish-scrubber in sight. Maybe I’m an artist, painting pictures of the singing mountains as the train strides along its desert track. Or a hobo on a freight, free like the ocean winds split apart by the whistle’s vanishing echo.
my brothers’ prizes –
dull pennies crushed on the tracks,
copper hearts now shining