“Amtrack”

7-9-87 (July 9, 1987)

 

“AmTrak”

Trees and towns
factories
single cabins
whole developments
new communities
a trailer park
a factory
a river
sudden tunnel
high bank
a burnt out bus on its side
stagnant pond
swimming beach
golf course
forest
and through the trees
traces of glimpses
of lives
little triumphs
wasted ages
death and pain
birth and hope
schemes and dreams
honest toil and con
games.

Time out
to visit the
café car

there are a bunch of
French Canadians on this train
(Uruguay?)
I mistook an Uruguayan
for one of them
she’s a writer
I flirted shamelessly
-gave her my name &
address, she said,
I was interesting
maybe she’ll write.

darkness descends
on a world in
two dimensional
motion

the patterns of the
leaves of trees
crawl like snakeskin

dirty towns
dirty factories
come and go

the world has been
painted
on several
opague screens
backlit as we
rush past
to the
rock and roll rhythm
that never quite completely
hypnotizes
us

now the painted
scenery
moves
at varying speeds
past the train
while high tech
attendants
push buttons
to swing and sway
and rock and
hesitate
then roll and
accelerate
to make us believe
in the illusion
that we
are actually
moving.

I could fall
in love a dozen times
an hour
on this train
maybe more if I
write less
and watch the passengers
more
There must be five
young women
on this train, in this car?
I’ve decided
I could love forever
a couple of them
no doubt would be married
there’s one-
3 seats in front of me
facing me-
glancing my way
and smiling when she
catches me
glancing back
Absolutely too cute
button nose
two pony tails
totally baffled
by obstacles like
door release buttons
and luggage racks
fixing her hair by her refelction
in the window
totally ignored by the
guy she’s sitting with.
-must be her brother

-an hour later?

I just saw the
Uruguayan?
again
she’s writing away in her notebook
almost as frantic as I am
while the other woman
I fell in love with since, maybe
Baltimore?
got up and looked around
stepped over her
sleeping brother
and
walking this way
almost fell in my lap.
“I forgot-” she said,
“Which way to the lunch car?”

I couldn’t pass this one up
“I’ll show you- I’m hungry too”
She smiles then seems impressed
when I stand up
“You’re tall-”

Her name was Hillary
from Philadelphia
the guy ignoring her
is her cousin
She found it fascinating
that I was a writer
and wanted to know
if she would end up
in anything I ever wrote.

She wrote down her name
and address and
phone number
and then looked sad
and told me
she was supposed to
meet the man
almost twice her age
her family had promised her to
so the mob
wouldn’t kill her mother and her brothers,
and maybe finally,
her broken father.

I blurted out
“Is there anything I can do?”
She looked desperate, then defeated
shook her head, “No- that would
get my family
butchered or worse.”

I paid for her food
on the way back
to our car
she pushed me into a men’s room,
kissed me desperately,
moved my hands to grope her-
then pushed me away,
straightened her
clothing and made me
check to see
that there was nobody
in the corridor
and I walked her
back to our car-
she gestured that
I should stay in my own seat
walked back to her
cousin
sat down and hid behind
a “Bride” magazine.

I fell asleep
woke up a couple
hours later
saw her as she
was still hiding behind
that magazine
and hoped I dreamed
the whole trip
to the dining car.

Train rides
will never
be the same.

Jim

Jim