The Train Through North Carolina
(for Orri J. Putnam)
What could contain more mystery
than the angle of that chimney
standing follied in a fallow lot,
no house; no guest; no cooking pot?
And what to think (it makes me nervous)
of the Holy Ghost Delivery Service,
its doors nailed shut, the windows blind?
Who’ll deliver the day’s sublime
and matchless grace? or the pressing news
that a flood has left of nest of unreconciled shoes
in a fetid grove of tulip trees
(traumatized, bruised, dropping their leaves?)
If the Holy Ghost has gone under, I alone will report
that pregnant girls still stand on porches
studying the trains, both bearing unimaginable freight.
They linger like harvests harvested too late.
I’ll write that the cotton is ripe and Selma’s in tatters.
I’d describe the crumbling station, but it hardly matters;
there are points from which one may never depart
nor does one return. It’s a Heraclitian art,
this traveling with you, my sweet friend.
For what if we discover the world upended
and beyond recognition, everything lovely lost
in a wave of surrender, such steep cost?
But you aren’t afraid to look: it’s the same old ruins you’ve embraced before.
The overcome, the collapsed, the world, you, we so hopelessly adore.