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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 31, 2016.
About this Poem 

“Wordsworth describes a poem as something half remembered, half invented, which this one is. Since I have a very bad memory, I was able to use the images from a recent train trip to Rhode Island as a means of extending and embedding the brief, odd story of meeting my father for the first time, which did indeed happen in a train station.”
—Lynn Emanuel

From a Train

After night’s black abandoned truck—
morning is locked down tight,

and the sky’s brewing up 
some trouble.

So far at the bottom of this
moment, she could fall off.

Coat hem. A pair
of sultry shoes. She is five.

Small for her age.
Meeting her father for the first

time. Union Station. Denver. 
Behind the harsh horizon

beyond the tracks, a dark
wildness over the swing set,

brick yard, development.

Little nowhere, where
Did you come from?

The train roams through
the gone and vanquished,

some pale, soft voice talking.
Spooks. Phantoms.

He is the unclosed
cut of her.

Find the missing
dark scythe. Find

the jawbone of an ass.
Dead wood, cemetery, oil vat

shooed away—harried—
by the train’s advance.

First this, then that, then
a thrush’s three notes happen

all at once at once at once

and a figure
in a red hat.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Lynn Emanuel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 31, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Lynn Emanuel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 31, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Lynn Emanuel

Lynn Emanuel

Born in Mt. Kisco, New York, in 1949, Lynn Emanuel is the author of several books of poetry, including The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected, winner of the 2016 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, andThen, Suddenly—, which was awarded the 1999 Eric Matthieu King Award.

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Love is boring and passé, all that old baggage,
the bloody bric-a-brac, the bad, the gothic,
retrograde, obscurantist hum and drum of it
needs to be swept away. So, night after night,
we sit in the dark of the Roxy beside grandmothers
with their shanks tied up in the tourniquets

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I’ve never longed for the annulments of Heaven,
nor for Hell, that orgy of repenting,
but have wanted the loneliness of this
slender room and bed, the cool neatness
of being dead: to be reduced, cleaned out,
a manageable mess, nothing left but knobs
and buttons, the skull an

poem
Even the butter's a block of sleazy light. I see that first,
as though I am a dreary guest come to a dreary supper.
On her table, its scrubbed deal trim and lonely as a cot,
is food for one, and everything we've ever hated: a plate of pallid
grays and whites is succotash and chops are those dark shapes glaring