Melanie McCabe: “That Train”




Boys waited in shadows for that train, its black plumes
a curling scrawl above the tree line. They rallied

muscle, adrenaline, for an open box car and the shrill
thrill of velocity, of spark-flurried death.

I watched those boys from a low dogwood limb and beat
with their blood, breathed in grease, heat, and let

whistle startle my pulse. I waited for the whine, squeal,
their clipped cries, but knew caboose then only as

postponement, as refrain—its soothing percussion
fading over the even ties: not yet, not yet, not yet.



Melanie McCabe is the author of three collections of poems, most recently The Night Divers, as well as a memoir, His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Georgia Review, Threepenny Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and many other journals.

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