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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Layman’s Trestle

 

 

rises past the trailer park with its Hamelin of kids

then twists and drops and at the bottom there

it is, its namesake, the train trestle spanning

a brief gulley, same tracks that in a couple miles

pass our house.   Barely visible across a field

and through forest, its presence, all straight

lines and metal rust, still disturbs

the landscape.   My father loved a track, a train,

a trestle.   Especially a trestle, the way the trains inched

across, their relief at reaching.   

 

I drive down this road most days, heading

home or to town:  Layman’s Trestle,

whose dips and curves allow little time

for reflection:  and it is true:  I don’t want

to slog through the thick language

or to consult the experts in the field

only to comprehend that they know only

what I know.   I want it spelled out in plain speak:

This is you.   This is you, and this

 

is your story.   Once upon a time he was

a priest.   Could he, had he remained so holy, have said his own      

last rites?  As it was they weren’t recited;

he went, catholicly, a layman.   It is right, then,

that when I drive by the daily trestle I see no train

up there but him, stepping his way

across the tar-drenched ties, in pajamas and bathrobe

that flaps like a Jolly Roger, black and bone.   I slow,

and with windows down the birdsong

might be my father expertly piping, follow.

 

                     —David Brennan