11,041 vagabonds plus:
the train ride
The whistle of a train afar is an instrument of loneliness. Attempting to recreate its song with a harmonica is close, but you only succeed in another lonely waterlogged cowboy lament. Just as miserable is the whine of a droning loud-mouthed salesman in your compartment coach reeling off his statistical life story.
The Writer loves the thought of the railroad under his feet. It reminds him of his youth, the memory of the train line running by just a stones throw across the pasture of the family farm. The Heartland rails of his dreams. And the best scenario where the lines upon his sketchbook wander best.
"But what could I do? The girdle is on its way to oblivion"! the loud-mouth asks in a brief unanswerable question to suck in more air.
"I don't care", the Writer answers under his breath, lowering his hat over his eyebrows.
"Well there's no need to be rude. Did you hear what I said? What are you writing there anyway"?
The Writer stops and peers out the window. It is raining now, and he's thinking of the past, the butternut grove, the weeping willows. He smiles and is lonely for Tess, and the last time he held her softly up to the final call for all aboard.
"I say there"!
He raises his hat revealing magpie black eyes and looks into the eyes of the man.
"Have you heard of Vladimir Nabokov?" he asks, without raising his voice. "I didn't think so. He once said the writer's job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them. If you promise me to remain quiet, I will not chase you and heave rocks at you".
It's all lies what they claim. They talk all lies about her dark-eyed sullenness. They say her forced smile confirmed madness. Sure it was forced. That's a proper greeting for the cold unforgiving townsfolk I'd say.
I moved her from the cemetery back to behind her little cottage. By that moss wall. Tell no one. Out front the overgrown grass is in uneven clumps now. Azalea tree blossoms of rose pink have coated the yard with a fragrant cover. It's quite beautiful.
In back she had the small man-made pond. I should say woman-made. "I troweled it carefully by hand", she whispered behind me as I was admiring it one Sunday. A reflecting pool of sorts that bottle-necked into a runaway creek. "The fish just knew the way", she laughed.
She asked if I could take the masonry bit and demolish the moss-laden low wall. I told her it was charming, the soft lime-green stone complimented the black cottage, and to let it settle there forever. I turned to her and she was looking at me, eyebrows raised, her eyes not meeting mine, but at my forehead. She seemed pleased at the suggestion, and to have gained my trust, and shortly afterwards is when she revealed who's reflection she'd witnessed amongst the fish. Actually, she recounted, the fish moved to one side out of the way, and she saw Him.
"A Love lost in war". Her eyes filled with tears then and she looked away. "Don't tell anyone. His arms outstretched, he begs me to come". I hesitated, and she waited patiently. "They'll think me mad", her voice cracking.
"Of course you're mad. You're a poet, remember"? A string of white doves fluttered over us. We both watched. "My daughter has your collection in reach by her nightstand to keep her company in travel".
She liked that. No forced smile. But Life was just too hard, and she died so young. One moonless night I buried her next to the wall. You ask me with your teeth clinched if I've seen her. Yes, I've seen her reflection in the quiet pond, arms crossed...at peace.
painting by Daria Petrilli
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