Poem: Rust on the Wheels

Rust on the Wheels

Outside the rail car is untouched.
Seventy years old and it appears ready
for the next journey
as it languishes in this graveyard
of steel and aluminum.

Inside it is different.
Graffiti and abuse.
Seats ripped from the floor
and piled one on the other.
An old mattress lays at one end.

This is what happens
to travelers like yourself,
left too long in a single place.

When you dated the woman you love, you would drive
two and a half hours for coffee and conversation.
Folks thought you were mad. Perhaps so,
but it is a madness that has plagued you all your life,
this hunger to go, the place never mattering
as much as the journey

Not made of steel and aluminum,
the stillness has left you rotting from inside.
It is worse and more deadly than rust.

It is time to leave this place. To go
before your weaknesses and demons write graffiti,
break the windows and crawl out
of the darkest recesses of your mind.

It is time,
to travel east, towards the sun,
towards the sea, the destination a second thought,
the flight towards light the first.

About this poem.

I have traveled my entire adult life. For work. For family. For some, travel is a burden. Not for me. I thrive in the traveling, often more than in the destination. So this past year of quarantine has been like a prison.

Next week I travel to Portland, Maine to spend time with a dear friend. It’s only for a couple of days, but it is the first long trip in a year. I am so ready.

Tom

PS: The picture was taken at an old train graveyard in Bellows Falls, VT. Probably the last trip I made, a couple of hours from here. Last spring.

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