Travel

The train swayed past cropped fields,
Barking collies, abandoned gas works, cows,
Brown bungalows with little gardens
And potting sheds, kids kicking a soccer ball
Down a deserted street. Behind me two teenage girls
Dressed in identical vests and white blouses talked.
“I hate people who are good,” one of them said.
“They want you to be good, too.”
“I know,” the other one said.
“My Aunt Mary is like that. She makes me retch.”
I got up and walked down the wobbling aisle toward
The space between cars. Two guys were sharing a pint
In that conspiratorial way guys like to do.
I stretched my short legs and smelled their whiskey.

Night coming over the western hills, the lights of
The villages along ridges. I wanted to walk into
A house and be welcomed like some long-lost uncle.
I wanted to see everyone rise excitedly.
I wanted to smell the cooking, the wash, the closets,
The cats, the peculiar odors of various skins.

The girls were still talking but in lower and tenser voices.
Two more stops and we’d all be getting off.
I was taking the ferry across a sea I’d never crossed.
The windows inside the coach were beaded with the vapor.
Of human warmth. I ran my fingers along the jeweled moment
Before it died in the taunting arms of speech.

— Baron Wormser