Jan 22, 2007

Iron Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away

I love watching the trains go by.

I've always been fascinated by trains; they never fail to give me an almost drug-like rush, and my job is an enabler. There's nothing separating me from trainspotting except six lanes of traffic and a stand of scrub trees that line the tracks running parallel to the interstate. Add to that lots of open space intervening between me and the tracks some quarter of a mile or so out my front door and I'm set. My front windows give me plenty of view and three or four times a day I get to pause for a few moments and watch them labour past.

I wrote this yesterday morning while under the spell.


I was just now sitting here, watching three huge diesel engines pulling a train of what looked like coal cars along the tracks, and they were just barely creeping along, far slower than a walking pace. They were building up speed slowly, these three ugly, brutish machines, their cars loaded and heavy, and the ground and the air were vibrating in sympathy with their struggle.

I was wondering what it would be like if I could have been standing there beside the tracks as they came lugging and rumbling along. What it would feel like in the ground and in my chest, and how I might keep up for just a while walking along beside them, my shoes crunching in the grey gravel alongside the ties. What would I feel if I reached out a hand to touch one's flank, and let the fierce growling and clanking seep into me, in through my skin. I wonder if I would become a channel, a conduit of all that energy barely held in check, circling through my arm into my body, out my feet and into the ground, there to return through huge steel wheels, up through diesel engine and back out the flank, into my arms again.


Life hits me like that at times. I wish it did so more often.

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