Riding Backwards on a Train

Riding Backwards on a Train

Someone always likes to ride backwards,
leaning his head against the window, reflection,
the clacking of the cars rocking him to sleep.
What does he see in the passing frames?
Stories. Stories like long tracts of land.
There goes an old house, a sycamore.
There goes an old house, a sycamore.
My mother was an old house, my father
a sycamore towering over her. In winter,
I teetered on a ladder, a weathered ledge,
and cleaned the gutters. When I dream
I am falling, I fall from that roof, born midair,
barely alive, then the ground, hard mercy,
a stranger’s hand touching my shoulder.

James Hoch
first published in The Kenyon Review, New Series, vol. XXIV, no. 2, Spring 2002

Riding Backwards on a Train

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