At Palmer a pair of freight
locomotives parks beside
a halted Amtrak passenger train.
One’s green and yellow, one sports
black and white zebra stripes blunted
with a bold red nose to contrast
with the blue and silver wash
of the Amtrak engine. Crew change,
of course. I snap a few photos,
bracing myself against a wind
strong enough for camera shake.All of my photographs become
self-portraits featuring red
nosed locomotives, main lines
skewered toward the vanishing point,
passenger cars as graceful
as lengths of sewer pipe. I press
the shutter to assert myself
against the faded spring glare
that threatens to absorb me.
The locomotives grunt and groan
and the paired freight units creep
away around the curve to hide
in the New England Central yard.
As the Amtrak train bulls ahead
a bored passenger spots me
peering from the embankment and waves;
and I'm feeble enough to respond,
relieved that I’m still visible,
at least to a stranger’s gaze.