was the loss of a sister, her shadow
tugging at my heels, wanting to go
everywhere with me, now that she’s
grown younger than I am.
That was before I understood
that when she died,
her spirit was not caught
between the wheels and the rail.
Now I think we feel loss because love
is not large enough to contain
the capacious spirit, which roars
like a train into each new day.
We catch only a glimpse
of the faces we love, flickering
at the window, as we stand
in the weeds with our boxes.
If only we could stop the train
long enough to exchange our gifts,
who would mind the parting then,
embracing on the iron step,
holding each other’s faces
still, for one minute—
then the whistle opens like a scream,
the wheels grab the rails,
and the body of white steam rises.