She stands on the beach covered 

 in the black body mask

 that floats towards the sand.

One foot protrudes to feel the yellow day.

It has a different sensation

Feels freer than cold pebbles in the dark.

She stands and wonders what it must be like

 to run naked in sunlight:

 her hair keeping rhythm

 with the morning breeze;

 wet dirt squishing between her toes.

She looks down.


Retrieves her foot.

Afraid someone might have seen her

 experience freedom

 for the first time.

 illustration by Randy Covey©

Light flashed.
The window reflected a woman’s image.
I drew my hand to face
 to wipe away the years of longing
 sliding in droplets of sweat.
The night train was full of travelers
 whispering secrets,
 tracing dreams on magazine covers
 and typed-set words in paperback books.
The ride was already too long.
Night coughed chunks of blind fear
 from my lungs.
Heart, a clock of erratic time.
The conductor announced our arrival -
 “Sandalwood Hills” echoed from car to car.
I gulped air like whiskey.
Strangers collected their baggage,
 smoothed sleepless wrinkles from laps,

 while I searched for that image.

Strangers stepped from the train
 to the still of earth,

 then disappeared into cars or taxis.

On a bench, outside the station,
 I listened long for your footsteps.

Then gathered my packages;
 all I’d come to be ballooned from my bags.
As I walked towards the black iron horse

 that brought me to you, 

 it disappeared in the moonlight shadows.

“Take the Night Train home,” you said.
“I’ll be waiting.”


Photo courtesy

Foreign Affairs

The Night Train Home