The city slips away in the wrong direction,
a breath-stealing, helpless realization
that takes place too late,
like discovering one’s manners
vanished with one’s drink.
Having boarded the incorrect train,
leaping off at the next station
is not always the best solution…
Yet eager to rectify an error,
who stops to think?
The reward for decisive action:
a desolate platform, the squat, dark stationhouse.
Shattered windows, dangling doors.
No schedule of future arrivals, no one to ask,
no relevant vocabulary even given the chance.
Disembarking is as momentous
as departing — or should be —
but we heap the glory
on an audacious beginning, and on the journey,
taking for granted a safe, if haggard, return home.
Tar-dipped telephone poles,
now wireless, recede into humid thickets.
The afternoon buzzes
with a pilgrim’s silence,
alarming to any still in transit.
Solicitous, suspicious, hostile, indifferent,
the entrance of any eyes would be welcome,
would likely dictate the day’s outcome,
except the only occurrence more intuitively improbable
is the blessed spitting of another train’s brakes.
Rash decisions can leave one stranded
in burgs served, revenue permitting,
by a limping, subsidized local.
Prop up the legs of that splintering bench.
This is not an island
of sirens, witches, giants, storms.
This is a place,
alone, to wait.
Which may be the most fearsome adventure yet.