There is no el train in Auburn, no steady rumble
like long thunder on a summer afternoon.
Instead, Suburbans honk and veer behind
my neighbor’s combine, pass and speed to the light,
line up at four-ways for permission to turn.
The Cleveland and Eastern Interurban
used to pass through here, the Maple Leaf Route
curving slow through Newbury out to Amish country,
its steady clacking carrying produce and passengers
in to the big city to see a show at the Hippodrome.
Today, the maples shiver and dance along the upraised curve
as if a train has just passed through, but it is only me,
the wind. I do not hear the click-clack on the raised track,
the crowd of impatient travelers standing in the woods waiting
for the junction’s switch to take them north or further west.
Now the forest and road are silent; last season’s leaves
crunch steadily beneath my feet. Syrup oozes slow and thick
from its tap into cold, steel buckets. A car swings south down
Munn Road, wondering at the steady slope in the woods
and then the thought is gone, fleeting as the season’s
leaves along this path. The sun rolls steady on its track
across the blue, though I’m the one who’s moving – I
and the farmer and the Suburban and the earth composting
beneath my feet. How slow the shift in shadows; how soon
I’m surprised to be chilled in the late afternoon.
I have Chicago’s el trains to thank for this poem. Lots of inspiration from Chicago – hope to write more in the coming days if work and other responsibilities don’t overwhelm.