Journey

Waiting at Track 32—
(Harlem-Valley Wingdale, Dover Plains, Tenmile River Station, Wassaic)
the 6:09 chugs through the fan-less heat
we trudge by the liquor carts at the head of the platform
manned by stripe-shirted, big bellied men—
names like Jerry, Tony, and Joe
we push onto the car
commemorating FDR
— big bold letters on its metal flanks.

It’s Friday night
the seats of the train pristine and blue, silent—
Yet here come the hoards of
Suburban Women,
bedecked with cheap costume jewelry,
their Fifth Avenue bags crinkling, like new
twenties from the ATM;
ostriches clutching their empty kwaffee cups—
absurd and manicured

Deliver me, home

Rowdy men push through,
beer cans in hand,
grumbling and yelping about the cancelled ball game:
Damn those Yanks!

The train rumbles through
the catacombs of Grand Central,
dim lights illuminating concrete and nothing

Then up, up,
rising like a salmon wriggling
upstream—

Deliver me, home

The landscapes flash by,
as if viewed through an old hand-cranked film reel,
the bazaars of the city seen

from above

Harlem’s avenues, pulling through,
Greenwood cemetery,
white on white on white on green

Deliver me, home

The lakes, glimpsed through
staccatoed trees,
where swans glide and flutter and flurry.

We slip by swamps,
branches bent low,
moss hanging like quivering eyelashes.

Fields of wheat and wildflowers
caught gold
in the sinking sunset-sagging sunlight.

Deliver me, home

In the last leg,
the train huffs away, spewing smoky exhaust—
we drive away from the station,
the double yellow line guiding us

home

The willows dance in the pasture,
weeping in remembrance,
wavering heaving strings of leaves
like uneven strips of rainwater

Here, a sense of sky—
trapped but secure,
a yoke, expanding, encapsulated
by an eggshell membrane

In an iron railing’s zigzagged shadow,
nasturtiums spill
over stone steps, time-battered
tenderly

Clouds imprint shadowed
footprints
on distant valley treetops—
darkened floating lakes of evergreens and pines

Only out in the countryside do we remember,
by touch and thought,
the contrast between shade and sunlight,
dappled across damp grass

It is here
that two tender sprouts pushing through the drain of a sink seem a reminder of the frontier;
that these slender green stems against white porcelain offer a sense of curious belonging—
against all odds;
that a bee, burrowing into rosehip nectar, burdened by sacs of pollen, is a reminder of the trials of self-sufficiency;
that it truly is a scrabble for life, field or forest, cornered shadow or nestled den;
that stepping outdoors without jiggling the doorknob to test the lock gives me,
in calloused, outstretched hands, a cosmic certainty that yes,

I am delivered, home.


Eliza Fawcett, Age 15, Grade 10, Bard High School Early College, Gold Key

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