Thursday, February 1, 2018


The young woman’s whereabouts involve snow: seeds and dots weltering in halos of oily water at her shoelaces, which go boot-over-boot down the embankment to lengths of wintering scrub. “Garvey’s Ghost”—the bitter sweet percussion—starts on her earbuds. Her red hair clipped and chipped. The railroad tracks offer a north-south corridor between shallow wood where the wind can scour the poor footing of coarse ballast, culvert quiet and quiet akimbo. She had walked, once, through the pre-lightning metals, the stackable shoulders of a buckled housing distant, until she had lain down in a cemetery, long enough to be missing. A group of firefighters in t-shirts, heavy pants, and suspenders had discovered her, fetal, amid the irrational angles of the headstones. They had carried her (it only took one) (at a time) through a bright precipitate, and among the elevations and lift, she caught the slanted medallion of a fuselage in blue-gray suspension. Trumpet, the train drives through the wake of its own trumpet, the heralding, itself, always irrelevant.

There is little time to spread her arms in benediction as the locomotive—speeding, bright, juiced by catenary power—illuminates the regret of her body, organized forward in recognition of terror. Thirty minutes later, the train brakes, shrill, to a clatter, before the incongruity of a brief reversal, the passengers wakening to a small station, quiet akimbo. Abbey Lincoln had been guiding the musicians with the swells of her wordless voice, and the young woman must’ve deduced, “No, it’s good to be cold, it’s good to be cold,” before the engine’s number, 900 series, screamed beyond the glint of her good, cold, living eyesight. The conductor will fumble but save his coffee, the train will move, people will move, and isn’t that why she had protested in the first place, as the song clanged in her earbuds? Portraits will always decorate the hollows of a living room. They will always decorate fewer hours of dusty light.

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