Monday, July 16, 2012

Train Whistles

Train Whistles
That building and this house and how white it was, the tree in between, dogwood blooming and falling, blooming and falling, wind strong like my grandmother’s stitches holding the whole thing together. That house and holding onto it, onto the scene, onto its squat square spot and the firmness of it all, the finality, how soon will always be coming and this house might always be here to greet it.
Might always be here to stay.  Like porch sitting and like Saturday, gazing across, and that building and its dogwood and how when you looked up there were no angels in the sky, how when the factory stopped keeping rhythm there was no sky, white like chamomile sanctifying this place only it wasn’t sanctified, didn’t believe in sanctification, couldn’t spell it or breathe it or hardly breathe at all.
My grandmother believed in the sanctifying of things. She stitched salient red thread into kitchen curtains, stitches so tiny you could barely see them, salient and the asking and how blue they were, curtains between her oak table and grandpa’s truck and how I understood none of it, how I understood nothing of the beginnings or endings or sanctification, sky white overhead like dogwoods blooming or that building or grandma’s favorite holiday dress. White like divinity or the way I drew sidewalks and that building and this house separated by the black black road between.  That road and how far it stretched, in either direction it stretched, going on forever in my mind.
The black black road and that building, massive and brick and the gargoyle that watched their house even after the fire in ’93, even after grandpa imported some holy ghost and grew it up the porch-rails until the weather stopped being France, even when the truck rusted itself the rest of the way into place and their generation grew older and my generation grew summer nights barefoot and first loves.
            This is how the sky falls down when it breaks, how the katydids learned to speak, how the darkness is never what we choose, how sometimes it seems too big or not enough, how sometimes we want people to fall like this, like summertimes against your grandmother’s curtains and the peace of it all, the home of it all, and how it never seems the same, even when you dig your heels into the universe and demand it brake, and how people will break anyway, and never how you’d like.  How sometimes our bones and skin feel immortal but how sometimes there is no eternity because there is only right now, this moment and how you do not know what to do in it, this moment and the unknowing and the eternity of it all and how very much you want to be anywhere else, to be away.
            One morning you will wake up and you will go away. You will walk past snails, past discarded beer cans, past stray cats like god’s eyes, past the way you feel free like when it is just warm enough and kind of dusky. You will walk and you will look, for gargoyles, for the salient, for some hope of praise, for something to believe in, for a place to fall.  For a net.  You will walk to the sea, will travel past its edges into the spill that is expanse, is starlight, is the sound of train whistles.
            You will walk past train whistles.  You will travel past sea-edges, past the stars which navigate ships, past your grandmother’s kitchen and the way you’d run outside, onto the porch, dust between your sprawling toes and how it was incomplete, how you didn’t know anything about how to characterize, how you could not speak sanctify because it did not exist; sanctification did not exist and you were a girl, not yet broken, not yet rawhide, not yet looking for yearn in small places.         
You will go away and you will walk.  For incomplete, for the way you wish sometimes people could break like this, like fireflies, sky white like threat or painted things, and your grandfather there, in the drive, his black black truck and those eyes and your grandmother inside, and all the ways you wish you could go here, go home.  


Author: Shea Daniels

 Shea Daniels is from rural Ross County, Ohio, and a graduate of Ohio University’s Program of Creative Writing.  She believes in soy sauce as soup seasoning and black cats as luck, but she does not believe in rhyming.