The Train through Texas
While my mother sleeps,
she rides the train through Texas
with other girls her age,
all of them married to enlisted men
during the second world war.
At an early morning stop,
the train jerks and the new day
catches her by surprise.
I wave to her from the platform
until she sees me in the crowd.
This is your room, this is your bed,
there�s the door, and daylight
shining in the hall.
As she passes the dresser
on her way to the bathroom,
she greets the picture of my father
smiling in his uniform and cap.
After she closes the door,
his smile disappears.
I quickly dry his tears
so the woman he loves
won�t see him that way.
When she comes out,
his smile has returned,
even brighter than before.
It�s time to meet the day.
After breakfast and some talk,
life begins to make more sense.
Mom tells me again about the time
she slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk
in Belleville, Illinois, on the way to her job
at the bank where she typed columns
of numbers in an office upstairs.
She laughs about a landlady who hoarded
pepper and kept it under lock and key,
and recalls good old Ma and Pa Pheil,
the friendly couple she lived with
who ate �possum and loved to dance.
In those days, in Texas and Illinois,
she saw Dad as often as the war allowed,
and, you know, they got through
it all somehow.
Later on, friends and brothers gone,
they stuffed tomorrow in their suitcase
and caught the first train home.
Even now, the whistle blows.
August 8, 2005
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