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10 August 2011

The Cry of Two-Twenty

by Scott Loveall

567B DieselWhen I was a boy there were these tracks that ran under Broadview Rd. The bridge from below was a cavern of rust with huge lines of rivets. It was the strongest, most immovable thing I could imagine in my small world. It's a wonder the gravel bed beneath the tracks had not been thrown away over the years. Especially by us baseball types. We were always throwing something.

We would do our usual kid antics of walking the rails, and daring our short legs, and each other, to run-hop, run-hop the huge creosote rail ties, trying not to land on our heads, elbows, and knees. Ronnie Miller made it to eleven straight before breaking his collarbone. He was something to watch. A regular Springbok he was.

It only a couple of July's I guess. Two summer's between school years. Yet now it seems like a stretch of elastic timelessness that still rings with dares, taunts, and laughter. Other times it is a blink, a hiccup lost in a life.

It was the trains that drew us there of course. We seldom saw one in the heart of those afternoons, and when we did they were just laden coal cars and huge maroon blocks full of things we could only imagine. We always bent to listen on the hot steel tracks. "Nope Terry, nothin!" The engines had faces then, like planes and little Mazda's do today.

But at night...oh at night it was different. At night, after the fireflies had swooned through their mating calls, after Jimmy Dykes signed off from a West Coast Indian's game (where, of course, we lost), you would hear those calls. The deep distant calls of the trains as their horns ripped the night. Some say that trains stay with us throughout our lives. I guess that depends on where you come from and if they touched your days. Those sounds will ever mean adventures, yearning, and unknowns to explore. The ‘what if I hopped that freight' and started over at the end of the line. I hope you'll share your train stories with me along the bitstream. In the meantime, this is The Cry of Two-Twenty.

The Cry Of Two-Twenty

Its boxcars a mile
- rit-tacka-clack -
the Two-twenty freight
has edged out of the yard.

A ghost train tonight,
the sea fog in fingers,
teasing its departure
through dimensions of mist.

The cry of Two-twenty
kisses the night.
Distant echoes of longing
for childhooded souls.
Somehow grazing the scars
that we link to regret.

Its boxcars a mile,
I count out as they pass.
Each shape disappearing
in the milky hazed night.

Like chances slipping away,
and lovers imagined and lost,
and reminders of romantic places
filled with unknowns and new hope.

deep in the distance,
the cry of Two-twenty
kissing the night,
and the ears,
of another childhooded soul.

© SNL, 1988, 2011


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