Aubade with Ballast
The tracks to the south of us are under repair,
so we take the train north from Exeter at a discount
a $5 Sunday ride to a postcard scene come to life.
In Saco, we eat breakfast in the cafe car. Paper cups
of coffee, bagels smeared with cheese. The landscape
moves past us in a movie reel. Flashes of brown, green,
a blur of trees as we sideline to allow a slow freight
to pass by. We arrive in Brunswick, walk hand in hand
down Maine St., stop at a record store to peruse
crates of vinyl—some new, still wrapped in plastic,
others dusty, & long forgotten. Withered relics
with their stories scratched careless in the wax.
We eat sandwiches & crackers in a park framed
by a metal bridge. The river spills like a photograph.
In an antique mall, where the aisles bow
under the weight of so much history, you buy a pink dress.
Paper-thin, heavy as feathers. You wonder aloud
if someone wore this dress to their first dance,
or lost their virginity, or broke a heart.
When we return home, you will put on the dress
& my breath will catch hard in my throat,
but for now the shop keep has wrapped it in butcher
paper for safe keeping. We walk back along Maine St.
to the station, our hands folded together like prayer.
Like flowing water. Briefly, we consider buying ice cream,
but the line is long so we sit on a bench until the conductor
calls us all aboard. Climb into the train car, giddy
as school children though exhausted. We play cards
in the parlor car, you sipping whiskey while I drink
coffee thick as tar. For the last of the ride we sit coach,
watch the twilight fade away while your sleepy head
presses against my shoulder, your breath more soothing
than steel wheels on rail.
About the author:
William James is a poet, punk rocker, and train enthusiast from Manchester, NH. He's a contributing editor at Drunk In A Midnight
Choir, whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hobart, JAB Magazine, SOFTBLOW, Atticus Review, and the Emerson Review, among others. His first full length collection "rebel hearts & restless ghosts" is forthcoming in 2015 from Timber Mouse Publishing.