(For Tom F. dead of AIDS at 45)
Day, a rickety train, bumps and jolts its way
slowly out of the station, the still place where I last saw you
alive. It gathers speed. Oh, we're well out
of the tunnel now. Light shocks. Details add up —
sooty buildings, freight cars, trucks, marshy fields —
railroad scenery. Then porches, laundry, little fenced-in yards,
each with its hopeful rosebush, its plastic pool.
Somewhere behind us, you are still yourself, as real
as speech or touch. We grind through the fields.
Shall I jump off? Jump! Run in the high slashing grasses,
the sucking marshes full of cattails; climb over fences,
through the yards; scratched, bruised, filthy, ridiculous,
crash into the station, dark now in my mind's eye,
search through the shadowy benches and silent crowds,
see you, standing as you stand, speaking
as you speak.
Photograph by Jeff Crouch.