Like the dark interminable freight train
that blocks the path to work
and forces lateness on me,
children change everything.
My two-year-old son, that determined diesel,
howls his approach loud as any air horn.
He vibrates through my life,
his black engine dripping oil and overcharged,
fuming energy too great to contain,
shaking everything, rumbling down the rails,
humming along my bones even when he’s out of sight.
My daughter, that silver streak of Amtrak,
twelve now unless she’s aged again,
whooshes by sucking my breath after her.
She never stops, never even slows;
even when she idles she moves,
so I only hear the rushing air that follows her.
Everywhere I turn, I face their crossings
and see steel wheels turning,
gleaming where metal meets metal
and strikes off grease and rust.
I see the triangular hubs turning,
see the three grimy nuts for every wheel,
turning past to present to future
past to present to future,
burning up my past like fossil fuel
racing toward some future
too dim for me to see.
After 37 years of teaching high school English, Cecil Morris wiles away his retirement reading, writing, and riding the bike that doesn’t move through scenery of podcasts and boredom. He has poems appearing in Ekphrastic Review, English Journal, Evening Street Review, Hole in the Head Review, Talking River Review, and other literary magazines. Right now, he is trying to learn the names of all the birds that visit the yard he shares with his indulgent partner, the mother of their children.