On the Platform of a Train Station Knee Deep in Fog

by Camille Hugret

You stood, guarded by suitcases,
edgy as a smuggler, staring down
those tracks that would take us
from the snowmelt, the wet adobe clay
which clung to our boots—and leave us
on the indifferent streets of a city
where we’d made no memories,
shouted no exultations of love.
Here our tracks would diverge.
What else could we have done?
Try to heave ourselves back into the saddle?
There was barely strength enough in our hands
to hold out our tickets.
Our last evening together—spent
in a small chamber with a rattling window.
We kept to our own benches,
still, I could feel this thing between us
out there in the night while we slept.
We awoke in the dark on the still train.

"A swan hit the line."
This absurd verdict, repeated
down the cars like a well’s echo.
We counted to five and the power came back.
The train rolled forward and the swan was forgotten—
its sensuously curving, broken neck,
its blazing moment of feather and froth, miniscule.
But I stayed awake, vigilant until the bud of dawn,
knowing even small things can cause sizeable wounds.

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