(photo by Rodger Kingston)
Two power cars and a coach—
a machined aluminum tube
varnished against corrosion.
Riding the Comet from Boston
to Providence unsettles me
since this is a ghost train scrapped
when I was only five years old.
A few dry skeletons crumpled
in faded upholstery smelling
of mold and last century’s mice.
As the only living passenger
I huddle in the rear in case
this flimsy speedster crashes.
But ghost trains almost never crash.
And they rarely stop at stations
like Back Bay, which flashes past
in symmetries of concrete platforms.
Then underground to Forest Hills,
slinking along to Readville,
then raging over the marshland,
the Neponset River a flash
of gray. Then past Norfolk without
a pang of conscience. Canton, Sharon,
Foxboro and other suburbs
hardly crease my mental map.
We rip across the state line
and pierce a hole through Pawtucket.
At last I detrain from the dream
with Rhode Island’s snowy tombstone
of a state house hovering nearby.
Panting smuts of diesel exhaust,
the Comet departs in the mist.
I join myself in a café where
I describe my railroad journey
with respect for the disbelief
self and other have in common.
Did that ghost train actually run?
That gleam of aluminum banded
with two shades of blue enamel
could be seen as winter light
refreshed and refreshing itself
in a corner of our mutual eye.