William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Early Morning, Waiting for a Train

We waited a lifetime, as I recall. And as I know now, the rich tragedies I’ve imagined for others have really been my own.


Early Morning, Waiting for a Train

A year ago I turned the page,
ripe it was, a field of poor man’s cotton
marred by weak spots short of meaning,
nut grass, gopher mounds, and swales,
tire tracks on the boundary trail
made in last year’s rain,
the devil’s tired footprints
leading home.

I looked in upon another
to find children playing in the yard,
wash like seaweed dripping from the line,
a stable full of corn, hammers alongside hoes,
poles and spikes with wires running down
both sides of the road, frames and boards,
rolling tenement of steel, crates of eggs
rocked to sleep by the lullaby of wheels.

I was dreaming still
when the ground began to shudder,
the lines to squeeze, the brakes to drag
an undertow of weedy foam,
the world to end, the horn to sound
to deride a weeping mother
beside me with her window down,
her old life gone, replaced by yet another.

She turned on her radio, lit a cigarette,
and gazed into a firmament of tears,
the old cars passing one by one,
uniform, stolid, and gray, soiled by graffiti,
moving signs on battered fence posts
seen from town to town,
then, when she was looking down,
weeds gave way to cotton once again.

As the long train stopped and started,
she leaned hard into the years,
tried to hear good news in a storm of fear
that left bad luck lying on the ground
fanned by a warm, dry wind
that kept the moon from going down,
until I turned the page again, and she said
farewell to ashes and put her car in gear.

Songs and Letters, May 9, 2005


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Categories: Songs and Letters

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