by Joe Bonomo
Tracks that end in a field confound me. Tracks that sink into paved roads confound me. We’d drive from Maryland to Ohio to visit my grandparents every August. They lived in Coldwater in a small white house, in front of the New Idea Farm Equipment factory along which train tracks ran like girders. Every day when the trains would come through town we’d burst out of the kitchen and run across the yard, around the brick well to the tracks, the ground quaking beneath us, my sister’s screams vanishing in the roar. My brother wedged my foot between those tracks one forbidden afternoon as the train chugged into town. But that’s another myth. Last summer I drove through Coldwater, parked the car on the west side, visited the old house. New Idea is long gone, but its shell remains, housing other industry, and the tracks are there too, though the line that ran along the yard is ghosting the level ground, thunder echoing only in Sentimental Me. Here in DeKalb it’s the same thing: the old train station stands idle, leaning, ready for Walker Evans. The tracks that served it huddle in cold ground. In Athens, Ohio I walked atop a train rail until it stopped in a field. A story in a foreign language. The last paragraph missing. In Washington D.C. you can make out the old cable-car tracks on certain other-century streets, nearly buried by asphalt and crushed glass, cinder and debris. Tracks that sink into paved roads confound me. An outline of a memo atop a black desk. The parts of your 1960s transistor radio down in the basement. Erased sentences, visible still.
Joe Bonomo is the author of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell (33 1/3 Series), Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found, Installations (National Poetry Series), Sweat: The Story of The Fleshtones, America’s Garage Band, and numerous essays and prose poems. He teaches at Northern Illinois University and appears online at No Such Thing As Was and Scribd.
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