Study of Iron Horses

Jeremy Allan Hawkins

In the yard an idle freight strings out

its list of anvils, the gondolas dark, brakes

mute, the coal drag waiting to smolder

around a bend in the line to another crossing.

Grain coffins, parcel containers, flatcars, & carriage rumps

attend. The track bed settled & still. There is no sign

of who is the monitor among these pigeons

clapping over the yard & lighting on its steeled ribs,

no mark of a surveyor to note how it’s all coupled.

Like how a spider feels for vibrations, long filaments

reach out to tell when one is coming,

& this a harbor to take them in — these engines

which would haul out of this world

to a depot as it was or a station as it could be,

to dustbins, to mail hooks, or some Nevada

irrigated by iron & lined with catenaries no one

can see by daylight or otherwise,

                                                     since it is a future

dried with only itself in mind.

But for this, where is the late watch? Peering

to the point where the rails appear

to converge, awaiting ditch lights

which will swing forward & announce another berth?

The yard bristles to hold them,

the undercarriages bearing one way

or another. They are matted black

by a grease that can be smelled from here.

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