I remember a night,
an autumn night in a small southern town.
I am sitting on a blanket on the grass
listening to an orchestra
perform old show tunes.
Refrains from My Fair Lady fill this crisp
oh- so- welcome October evening air.
The cool night signals a respite
from the hot and soggy days
of the long Florida summer.
Adjacent to the band shell
are the tracks
on which the Silver Meteor
still makes a daily run.
Now the sky is punctuated by a few early stars.
Suddenly loud rumbling accompanied by harsh light
drones out the orchestra.
The musicians continue to play.
But this train not the orchestra has taken command-
of us who wait on the ground in the dark.
Bearing down hard and casting its thunder,
the train's high beams catch us unaware
as though to mock our very reverie.
With a pounding hiss the train disappears into the night.
We take pause, and our attention returns to the music.
A few days later my mother is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
That night I lie in bed beside my husband; I do not sleep.
I recall the barreling train from the other night.
I wonder if I rewrite the evening and leave the train part out
if I can make the news about Mom go away too.
Years pass, and losses mount.
I will come to understand that the train and the orchestra
move together in a rather exquisite harmony.
And I will learn that it is best to make peace
with trains that arrive in the night.