Train; December 16, Cold-Static Day, Not Very Crowded

by Max Gilman '25 on March 2, 2023
Portfolio Co-Editor


 Heat screams with no place to hide,

   Spewing, steaming, pushing, stewing—

             Stirring beneath stretching ceiling tiles,

            I listen because I am willing,

                 Whining through ear holes

  Like exhalation,

                   smoke travels

               thoughts linger


       I used to tell her I would be unbreakable when I got older.

And I’ll never again comprehend

what the hell that word ever meant to me,


Like metal.

My mother sits by the train window

my hands sit by the legs 

waiting for a tacking,

a buzzing will tell my thigh the head

is happy— a mere vibration.

The clawing on the other side of the wall,

pretending ears full,

fingers like a drenched rat—

when I make eye contact for the second time 

with the same pair of glasses three seats down.

On train, bathroom is escape, if needed.

the clearest reflection ever seen 

is a mirror coated in dirt, cracked several ways down the middle.

But train freedom—

 is the last thrill, entering wind like a bird.

mother was never meant for the prior,

on a train, for no destination.

The gale will guide her.

unbreakable like the sky;

the lie of the train, time,

the line of the yarn ball tangled beneath the steel wheel,

and nothing on a train lasts more than hours,

days, and strangers with lives that die in your mind

days after the trip.

Her and I never talk about the things we care about

Or maybe it’s I who avoids those things,

In the silence of a train bathroom

You can hear the world complicate,

Vibrating the bumpy tracks beneath,

And authority becomes you and the nothingness 

Because derailization could be death,

But still never tell her the things I care for.