Last Ride

I am made of metal and ride the rails,
a hulking machine of pragmatic power
whose sole purpose is to roll from suburb
to suburb, the sleepy green towns
west of the city, lately covered in fresh
snowfall, their domesticated bliss now
subdued in the brittle night air.

I deposit these fragile human beings
gently onto platforms and pick them up
at quaint stations. Sometimes I do all of this
backwards. But at the end of the day,
it’s all the same: a track that volleys me
from one point to the next, from the city
to the outer bounds of my route, day in
and day out.

Faces become familiar to me with time,
and I can feel the warmth generated by
body heat from the various passengers
deep within my belly. I am like the whale
to their Jonah, only God did not send me,
and they are not running away, nor
climbing aboard to learn a lesson.
They are just along for the ride.

So you can imagine my shock to see
a tiny, toy-like car driving toward me
on the tracks at dusk one January night.
It was silver and eerie in the fading winter
light, almost like an apparition.
My eyes shone upon it and my heart
reared up like a spooked horse but
my wheels could not stop.

I shouted with my horn; I screeched,
I warned, to no avail. My passengers
lunged forward in their seats, awakened
from the monotonous trance of their
daily commute.

I grimaced and shut my eyes
at the grotesque sound of crashing metal
and glass, and when I dared to look again,
I saw a young man floating away curiously
up into the night air.

My conductor was beside himself
with anguish, and emergency vehicles
accumulated. I was quiet and still
as my passengers strained to catch
a glimpse of this awful scene through
my clouded windows, wondering when
they would get home, the idea of which
now seemed half a world away
to us all, though one day I suppose
they will reach it in an instant,
the fastest ride they ever took.

Claire Juno, © 2015

…this may be a vanishing post; it is intended to the memory of someone I lost, but for anonymity’s sake, I may not keep it on my blog indefinitely…

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