Jayne Dunsmuir is riding the trains

The Benefits of Train Travel

When something tells you
You need a vacation
Take a train across country

Forget the planes
Leading to comic-strip beaches
Why would you dig in the hot sand
Why would you allow yourself
To get stranded
Between the land and the water

When you could sit quietly
In the smoking car
Drinking the beer someone passes  

With the sound of the bones
Of the irrefutable engine
Flattening a rail

That may as well have been put there
For you alone
The consolation of certainty

That comes from having no say
The choices were made in some past
When men rode horses along the track

Drew your route on parchment
Decided ‘this way’
Felled trees, dug mountains

Wrestled with obstacles
On your behalf
You ride the fervour of their certainty

And later, with a book in your hand
Look out to the vast various scene
Unravelling for your pleasure

You feel your heart mauled by
Everything you see because
It is momentary and unknowable

And what better than to suffer
Just a little in the comfort of the carriage
Where you witness

The door of the trackside diner
Opening to the hand of a woman
With long black hair

Holding coffee, a paper bag
Sees you watching from the
Window of the passing train

Thinks something of you
Perhaps nothing
And is gone before you give a name to it.

* Jayne Dunsmuir is a photographer living in New York.

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