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Going by Rail

George Ellenbogen
From:   The Rhino Gate Poems. Véhicule Press, 1996


you soon forget the starting
point, heavy columns, porters
you brush by to dimming light,
the slow movement past monuments you feel
you lived close to, abandoned
cars, as twilight tumbles eyes
of suburban windows you rush by.
your own eyes staring through
interruptions of boxwood groves;
the algebra teacher across you, open
to fractions; your first dinner, a slice
of something whose trip has ended
and some dessert you set aside.

But you remember the prairies—everything
becomes prairie, even waves
of hills succeeding one another, hulks
of mills lengthening in mid day sun
along snake dark water, back hoes
forgotten, and hulls of Ford
pickups rusting in backyards,
their red becomes prairie.

You take suburbs by surprise
bisecting duck paths, grazing
the local zoo where long horn sheep
gaze as though remembering
something else moving beyond
their wired country; you pass
the loading dock of a post office,
two loaders heaving a half dozen bags,

lurch by smoking chimneys,
rear wooden porches; crossings
where locals spar
at the local gym, tap
the light bag of your memory
until you become this countryside
where hung out laundry breathes
you, folds you in each gust,
takes you in—unembarrassed—
a stranger with only loose change
and no official papers.



George Ellenbogen's works copyright © to the author.


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