Like the Feeling of Butcher’s Paper

Robert VanderMolen

Sometime later he was hit
By a train – head lowered in the cold,
Somewhat deaf by the age of 50.
Not so repentant as startled,
As in a movie where the dying man
Gazes at some bird or cloud
But still wouldn’t go to church
Even if he could be carried.
Among those middens of doubt
Escaping seemed like a robust plan.
But he didn’t know precisely
What she was talking about.
Her white dog was leaping straight up
For no reason, a dog from Siberia.
But he did enjoy envisioning water:
Beech sheltering a cove where the sand
Grows sticky, the rocks half-buried
That once were so forceful,
Where the stream entered, then faltered,
Like a young man approaching decisions
Of what he could do without too much trouble
After an athletic career that didn’t go far.
Too bad Amy was so fat.
Yet her words always calmed him,
Made him as introspective
As was possible then, or ever.
As the evening was slowing down
With little ticks. The water upstream
More desultory. Orioles relaxing.
The man’s friend said to the policeman
I’m surprised he didn’t sense
The vibration. I tried to grab him.
Cigarette packages and cans, trampled
Snow, where they lived free and undisturbed
Above the park in a lean-to between trees.
A winging trail hammered by feet
Over a hill and down to a street.
It was awkward at first
Trying to get him out from under the engine.
The crossing grown nervous with odours.
Among those invigilate
A woman in a car said to her friend
In my dreams I’m pursued by gorgeous
Young men. I’m always seventeen.
When are they going to move
This damn train, replied her passenger.
He would have smirked at that