Tuesday, June 1, 2010
At this junction, railroads crossed
before the ’34 freshet
collapsed a couple of bridges.
One remains, unused but intact,
curving toward the Bennington
paper mill. The other’s a path
by a marsh of beaver lodges.
We note one large pine felled
by excessive overbites, many
saplings trimmed to handy size.
In a daze of vicious deerflies
we turn back along the abandoned
roadbed to find the car we parked
half a mile away. Nothing to say
about the horrors of the world
today: the threat of nuclear war
in Korea, oil spill in the Gulf,
the shooting of relief workers
off the Gaza coast. We slog along
with silence masking our faces,
plowing the plush air ahead of us.
When both railroads still functioned,
trains ran from Keene to Nashua,
looping around the Dublin ridge
and crawling through these marshlands
to pause at a station here, then pass
a ball signal and trundle east
toward Greenfield. You don’t care
about the geography but focus
inward, on grief you won’t share
because no man understands.
The roadbed we’re walking ran south
to Peterborough. You don’t care
if it ran to Moscow and Kiev,
the spangles of deerflies jewelling
your regal but gray-streaked hair.