Observation from train 48: Union Station, Chicago to Penn Station, NY

24 Jun

These observations are sort of sporadic, but also tied together. They are solid images, manifested from my surroundings, and i like them 🙂

Everything under its casting turns orange, under those street lights. I watch the nighttime as it skates by: first, the dark, and then a mill, then the dark, a home, the trees, the bulk of trailers sticking out of neck of someone’s woods and then the dark again. The nighttime goes by like a superimposed image on a silver screen.

Then we are stopped again in the middle of nowhere; somewhere where an American flag hangs beneath that orange light, beside a convenient store and two broken pick-up trucks. It is perhaps a town that Dorothy Allison wrote about, where she experienced her bitter life before she occupied somewhere greater.

Then the train is stopped, and I am frozen in time, like a man that is unable to stop his memory from draining down memory lane. When his mind takes him to that same stop again and again, the day his son died in the fire and the next morning when his wife drank herself to sleep.

The two police cars with the sirens spinning like the blades of a fan, rotating blue, white and red. They sit patiently at the level crossing, but they cannot get to their emergency because the train is still locked in its tracks. They stand outside their car, and make rounds around their vehicles until the train finally moves on. And, suddenly we are in a completely different place,

The three a.m. passenger that boards the train to New York lifts his things from the ground and slings it unto his back like it always belonged there.

I still don’t know what city that we’re in. And there is no one awake to tell me. Not the sleeping, elderly religious man beside me or the resting loud couple and their crying baby.

Apparent essentials to train travel: large bubble wrap as to lay out for comfort; head pillow, side pillow, neck pillow, ear plugs, inexpensive raincoats gained at a discount from garage sales, and a camera as to document everything.

We pass a home with a vineyard grown close to fences, near the shallow man made pond. It was only yards away from the cemetery.

The outskirts of any city, and their downtowns, and their tall buildings, and their shrubs and their industrial waste, are all identical through my eyes.

The woman moves down the hall of the train with the brown and watered stains because she has wet herself. She stops to speak to the woman in front of me, the one with the baby. The mother smiles, but the child frowns. The child perhaps smells what I smell. And the woman moves forward, but not without leaving the foul scent behind to stay with us for a while.

The older man that sat beside, the man that offered me advice about the bubble wrap as cushion, has disappeared. When we pulled into the station at Buffalo, NY, he strapped on his camera and told me that he was going to take pictures. From my window, I didn’t see things of much interest. That was two hours ago, and he still hasn’t returned. It was suggested that perhaps he went to the dinning cart, and perhaps he had. His bubble wrap is still unfolded, beside me, waiting for him to occupy the space.


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