Monday, September 27, 2010



Before the train can run, it needs context.
Hills and flat expanses for you to glue
grass onto, hollows for you to fill with resin,
your water. Glue a roadbed, and then the track.
Decide where the train will go, and who will
take this train. How far along are they
in their journey? Suggest the presence
of the people, a town. You can name this place,
paint it on a sign with a fine brush,
stick the sign post into the green once it has adhered.

Now that people live here, you give them
businesses, trades. The post office.
The bakery. Almond-sized loaves of bread
and a flag and flagpole that you sink into
the land like a birthday candle into cake.

Two deer at the edge of one pond.
You dip a toothpick in white paint
and touch it to their eyes so that they leap
into life. A mailman heading west,
his blue satchel heavy with correspondence.
A woman in a red coat and her boy
approaching the bakery.
What joy she must feel when the train passes.
Her son turns his face to her, grinning,
then turns back to watch the train leave.


  1. Hannah, this is delightful. I especially like how you conclude the poem.

  2. Yup, absolutely delightful...first, I thought of my train set when I was little, next, I thought of Blazing Saddles, and finally I thought of myself in train stations...I love traveling by train! Have a great Monday Hannah and stay cool! xo

  3. I like how the figures are positioned. I hear ducks quaking on the pond.

  4. The tracks come before the context. That is an interesting metaphor. And how poignant the image of the woman in the red coat who will never reach the bakery and the mailman who will never put down his sack and yet the train will continue to circumambulate this frozen context. Lovely.xo

  5. Yes, delightful is a perfect word for this.

  6. Life, decorated. Train travel is such fun, I miss it. A whimsical, well wrought poem.

  7. from Therese Broderick -- In some ways, these minatures are delightful. In other ways, they are eerie, almost creepy. I'm reminded of the Twilight Zone episode about giants controlling little people. I'm reminded of Joseph Cornell's boxes, or of Vasko Popa's poems about little boxes.

  8. Every Christmas, my husband, son and I visit a mall where a huge train set is always on display, with multiple trains and little worlds ranging from ski slopes, to santa's workshop, to airports, to gyms and shopping malls, playgrounds, world after world- This poem reminds me of that. I'm sure the people who create these displays go through a mental process much like you describe, and breathe life into the motions of these tiny figures, static, or repeating actions, one interval after another.

  9. Wonderful. I love the dreamlike reversal of settlement and railroad implicit to the creation of the miniature.


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