Only Trains (17.7.11)

This one is blues. Light and dark with waves. It belongs to this time, it says what it does and where it goes. A passenger train, an express, it leaves the city. Two floors, you can see people sitting and watching and you wish you were on it, because probably it’s going the wrong way but at least you’d be moving, and making some kind of progress without being on your feet anymore.

The end of the train is marked as a power car, with swooping white, blue, and blue swipes as it it rises up to meet the height of the rear engine.

It only takes a few moments and it passes, the warning bells end mid sound, their lights still flashing. The barriers lift, the lights stop. All is quiet, resumed.

The next takes much more time to pass. Its engine is traditional, but not old. It doesn’t sound like a train exactly, not the chuff, chuff you first hear, just a roar of track and engine. As it passes the sound rises and falls every five or so cars, but there shouldn’t be a reason. There’s no other engines, the sound shouldn’t change or have pattern but it does. It’s a square train, the kind you see coming out of a tunnel bridge against a background of a beautiful mountain in the middle of nowhere.

It drives tankers. Black and same, seemingly endless and loud. You can see them at the crossing itself, but you can look back to where it’s come from, and there’s still more tankers coming. More and more. The writing on their sides is too small to read. A cool thing to see go by, but what is in the tankers? Knowing what has been created, what is shipped from place to place, what things deserve to be fought against, it’s probably nothing good.

It’s in a busy park, at the end of a waterfront road. Some wait to cross the tracks, bikes go through and across the road. People sit in the statue chairs, and look at the changing fountain, walk their dogs, continue down the path, it feels open and oriented toward connection and uncontrolled casual strolls.

The line of dust black tankers breaks, at the end seen through the trees. A bright orange corrugated train car, cargo box, followed by a backwards engine.

The most satisfying train, the most mysterious. The one that proves the tracks are still used, strangely, in the middle of a busy city when the tracks in the country seem to be half fallen apart with nothing carried on them anymore.

The Amtrak is old, rounded, with small high windows in the engine, an air of reservedness, small, claustrophobic and old, playing into a hierarchy. Its colors are tans and beiges, rimmed with dust, white letter on each door, as if it pulls into a station with a wide platform where people wait in high top hats and sharp collars, carrying black cases and silver tipped canes. The colors look seventies. It marks each passenger car with simple white letters assigning each traveler to a position. Mostly coach. A bistro and a dining car, some business cars. An extra power car perhaps, and another engine again.

It seems tired, and removed from time in a way.

It passes too.

The warning lights are on again soon after. They flash and lower, warbling for a few minutes. Nothing in sight. A few minutes later they relinquish their hold on the traffic, but with nothing having past by.

The four bells, the fourth caution, seeing the engine through the trees as the barriers lower. It’s brightly colored, and typical train engine perhaps.

Carrying behind it two other engines, similar in color but facing backward. The driving engine looks much more open than the previous ones, with the engineer’s arm on the window edge and looking out as he passes by in his machine. It’s only a few moments, but it’s a connection, perhaps an extra train’s signal as it passes by. Warning of it presence, or acknowledging the people that watch or wait or live as it passes through.

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