Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home

Trains have this certain majesty that you can't deny. They're long and sleek, though they lumber. Trains have the quality of being undeniable, too. You couldn't easily stop a train, unless it wanted to stop itself (giving the train agency here, but you understand what I mean). They represent ordered grace, militaristic in clean lines of gray and chrome. Not low and rounded like the subway cars; broad and tall, noble, with long miles to go before they'll sleep in rail yards in Woburn, Melrose, Fitchburg, and Lowell. The engine's thrum and steel wheels bumping over rails accrete into a heartbeat that the train has. Long, low, falling-away note of the horn gives finality to the journey, like the trip a president's body takes home by rail. Sometimes the train will shudder, shivering, maybe in the icy damp. We spend so much time with it, we'd hope to consider it a friend.

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