Monday, March 24, 2008

Crew Change

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.