I remember these trains from my childhood. This one is by the side of the road – part of an ice cream shop outside of Bay City, Wisconsin.
Last night, as I lay in bed, I could hear the distant trains that pass below the bluff along the Mississippi. I love the sound – distant, eerie wails but comforting somehow. Hearing them in the night, they feel subterranean – buried in memory – dream trains, bearing hidden cargo, moving between the big cities at night, out of and back into the dark. Echoes of an earlier time, but here still, calling me now.
Visiting the Midwest is like that for me. I feel surrounded by the ghosts of old selves, haunted by the layered dust of memory. My sister and I touch those times tenderly, casually. Being here feels like traveling backward in time into a present that holds the shapes, smells and tastes of the past.
It used to be that coming home felt like trying to put on ill-fitting, outgrown clothes. Now it is different. Time and space seem jumbled, wrinkled and folded in on each other. Everything is familiar and I am the stranger, traveling on the dream train. Destination unknown.
On another note: Jon Katz has been sharing poems that go to the heart and this one is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. There is no confusion here: past and present woven, shining with appreciation.