Wednesday Poem

Next Stop

May morning. I lie between two dogs, the little
new one rests against my leg, the middle-sized
old one curls into an oval in her bed on the floor.
They’ve been fed. I’ve been coffeed. In-between-time.
I’ve been reading some poems, and though I can

think of nothing they’ve said that would cause this
to happen, I’m sixteen and on a train going off to college.
The engine has failed to keep up with the striding sun so

the sky has fallen dark. An answering dark has risen
from the forest and hills of Penn’s woods.
I’d been
on trains before, mostly the New-Haven Hartford
into New York City even though it was more expensive
than the usual trolley to subway and on down.

Now I’ve eaten
from the heavy silver and thin china of the dining car,
smoked a cigarette in the shifting, noisy space
where the car before links to the car behind.

I have gotten my one sweater out of my suitcase
and folded my sports jacket with the too-short
sleeves so it wouldn’t wrinkle much. I’ve read
all my eyes will allow in the dim coach car light.

Nothing to do but try to sleep while the train
ticked along the rails that would not let it go
other than where it was going, then sleeping,
fitfully, even through the Pittsburgh stopover,

till I woke up, fed the dogs, made coffee
and started to read poems….

by Nils Peterson