the evenings when circumvention, near collision,
or the interchange of arrival and departure
seemed everything authenticity gave and sparking
track and transformer employed.
Through the graded landscape, a house no bigger
than a fist, trees like lollipops, sawdust dyed
green for desirable grass, you used to select
compressions of distances that end where they originate.
The stations were abandoned, and the baggage frozen.
Perhaps the singing conductors sensed a seasonal
luxury of comfort and speed in the sleeping cars
filled with chicken feathers and torn feed sacks.
I imagine a little green and yellow engine, coiled
with its miniature cars, charged with traces of electric
spark and artificial smoke. Aware in the clickety-clack
of wheels that at least one car will be reliable, always
on time, you pass with the memory of a young girl handing
free apples to a window, a motion picture screen that will
say at one point between brake and full throttle that
the next stop is part of your own intention, preparing
to serve hot tea from copper kettles, spiced with cinnamon,
laced with ash.