Kathy’s house was white, two-story
with black shutters, next to the tracks
and a patch of orange poppies.
When the trains came through, they grabbed
her house by its shoulders and shook it.
We felt our bodies tremble with those wheels.
Kathy, her sister, Rose and I were shaking,
her three brothers rattled, her mom’s
breasts jostled, and Rebel barked softly.
Then Kathy would open one sable eye and say,
I really hate those damn trains.
But, I really loved those heading-somewhere-in-
the-night thunder trains. I imagined French-speaking
lovers kissing goodbye at moonlight stations.
I loaded cattle-smelling cars with stubble-faced
men whose sour breath played sweet harmonicas.
Lying beside my best friend, trains shaking
our covers, I dreamed a twinkling city filled
with goat herds, a sleeping hamlet at the ankle
of the sky, a city where love was a candle.
I made a city that didn’t breathe through
the nostrils of a steel mill, a town that didn’t
smell like rows of slaughterhouse hearts,
a place where men could wrestle night to the ground,
and drive their bursting lives as far as the brush
would paint, as far as the violin would cry.