Original Poem – Train Park (Lawrence, KS)

     Train Park, Lawrence, KS — March 12 — 12:30 pm

This park has a historical name–
Watkins or Wilson or something
that nobody can remember. We call it
the ‘train park’ for the matte-black
steam engine on silent display
on the east end–meekly corralled
within an aluminum chain-link fence.
Anachronistic, sad behemoth,
smokestack still wintry cold, no doubt,
though I’ll never know for sure–to touch
is to trespass. I sit on a wooden park bench
observing this relic of industry
resting, dense as an anvil,
across the long bowl of the lawn–
a tree-rimmed sunken oval with grass like
a frayed straw mat, a haphazard growth
of slender hay-needles among
an under-scattering of green. The birds
are mostly robins: orange-chested, earthy,
unelegant; standing on their twiggy legs, beaks
southward except for the occasional erratic poking
for insects in the spongy earth; shaded by the naked
sycamore–branches bare, dark bark stripped
to show the smooth, pale flesh of the true trunk.
Stray and wayward twitters hint at invisible others–
robins and sycamores. The March sun sinks golden
heat slowly down into my glowing skin, my cells
soak in the waves, atoms singing. The traffic
moves steadily, efficiently, noisily–work trucks
hum-rumbling North to the highway. The buzz-whir
of an airplane somewhere in the blank-blue
sky calls my eyes up into nothingness.
My gaze falls back onto the locomotive,
its iron atoms still sleeping,
refusing to reflect the light of late-winter sun, hidden
in 3/4 of its own shadow on my side–you’d rather hide
in your shadow than reflect that simple sun. I read
your name stencil-sprayed in chalky white
–A.T. & S.F. 1073–and I know I’m not as lonely as I feel.
No more out of place, out of time, or forgotten
than this locomotive and I know that my love is purest
from a distance. And I know that I cannot love you
alone, but maybe, you and the locomotive; you
and the robin in the shadow of the sycamore; you
and the park, the traffic, the city; you
and the sky, the sunlight singing in my skin; you
and the poem in the shadow of my hand.

One thought on “Original Poem – Train Park (Lawrence, KS)

  1. kristen

    for some reason, when I read this–I saw you sitting on the bench the Last Man Alive, still obeying the trespassing sign. Finally able to hear every sound in nature. I like this for every reason.

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