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When I was born I was hardened and human. I moved and rose and became a residence. The trains went by on rusty wheels gently Burning into the ground and I gently Burned into the world. When I gazed at the cars Up close I felt the layers of cold And sleep. It was still and the mist clung To the floors. I think I can remember smoke Hissing into the sky. The train remarked On men from the old days: time was a steamy Pocket where they lived and smoked and when The cold crept in the cabins and the party Was over and the man with a hump was Crying he couldn't remember his name... I know how far one must go, smoke and steel And engine poking through wasted snow, Into the drained world only to return in tears. The train grinds through waste and is sick and filled With the instants of flies. There is nothing As nude as a train reflecting November snow Or stopping in heat. All through the desert It sees the needy towns, the sober economy Of dust. It is not giving and its sayings Press into the heart. The train is old And bitter, its wisdom is born from pain, And when the man in Arkansas begins To scream and shake, and the bones of flies are Scattered in gardens, and the hills wake up In their skins under the light and they're covered With jingling verbena, and I'm hurt By the size of things: out of the fog The train comes, beautiful and shamed, And it is an orchestra of hard light and I know It will be light. I love the train. When I was born I was furnished with a body And a mind, clothes, rooms and doors. The train burned by, radiant and haunting, In waves and I recognized how I could Want, how the first motion is of breaking And changing until one wants only love and peace and one is tired. Look out into What we were given which is a moment Which is almost proof: the jaws of the train Are filled with the fumes of misery And when at night it blazes by I feel A great joy that runs through the field and is gone.
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Author:Snyder, Jennifer
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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