V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Mother is in the foreground, her black hair cropped
like a Gibson Girl.  She smiles for my father,
who steps back to catch it all—

the rented German car,
the soldier with the peaked black cap,
the tourist with the cigarette,
and her

in a blue borrowed maternity dress.

The usher steps aside for the photograph,
adjusts his wire-framed glasses, asks for their tickets.

What tickets? She asks.  We're riding through to Italy.

The usher shakes his head, motions for my father
to jump down from the platform.

                              She watches as he disappears
down the length of the car carrier.

The conductor calls out Letzter Ruf für Passagiere,
last call for passengers, pulls the whistle twice.

My mother takes off her red sunglasses, looks over
the railing, where

he runs, catches his shoe in the rocks.

                              Wartezeit!  Wartezeit!  Wait!
She swings her arms above her head, frantic, wild,

Wartezeit!  Wartezeit!

He drops the tickets, watches
as the scurry of thin air shoves them under the tracks.

She sees nothing of this—

sees only the train as it gasps and sputters, chuffs forward,
a slow tide that curls, then sags

closer to the mouth of St. Goddard Pass.

                              The black half-smile of earth opens
for them, its ragged tongue pokes out as if to say,

I have you now.

© by Amanda Auchter


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