Traveling by Train
And faster past another frozen river,
the brambles, shrubs, and underbrush of dead
woods and the garbage that was left behind
by runaways and skunks: the plastic bags
and twine, shoes beside forgotten brands
of beer whose cans, so battered by the weather,
have all but disappeared—like the whiteness
of a smoke after it’s cleared. And you’ve been on
this train too long to know the time; you’re lost
between the meter and the desperate rhyme
of clacking tracks. Home is nothing here.
You’re gone and in the going; can’t come back.
Malachi Black is literary editor of The New York Quarterly and a James A. Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, The Iowa Review, Pleiades, and elsewhere. “Traveling by Train” was recently selected by Mark Strand for inclusion in Best New Poets 2008. (8/2008)