Trestle and Embankment
by Laura Lee Washburn
The lone whistle proves the buzzing June
just like the sudden light of dusk’s first fireflies.
Every transplanted strawberry wilts in the yard.
I sleep so strong in the heat, it takes a ladder to climb out
again, or no, the soft footholds and handholds in the rift or cliff,
where someone has struggled out before me. Night
changes everything, even our room
where the sheets are made over in marzipan stars.
The little dog coughs again like a grandmother
who has eaten too much eggplant too late in the evening
so my dreams take me into noise and daylight, a scene
of bees decorating the air with their sound and their swerve
as close to us as the redbud’s gnarled limbs.
Other times awake, I watch you breathe, your eyelids roll.
The train has stopped again in the middle of town.
Someone pressed himself across the tracks and stopped.
Everything is still now
after the train’s lonesome push and the screaming brakes.
Each late night alone before sleep, reading while you sleep,
or fretting over the life’s work unmade, the six chores
undone, I think I would prefer the promise of morning
where my best friend runs six or seven miles
before her children cuddle to her and the eggs cook
sticking in the pan. She’s seven hours in,
when I wake. You’re settled in work
when I join the day. Morning breaks me into pieces
and every organ speaks its subtle resistance. No
wonder I never embrace the time of the birds and the dew.
Tomorrow the newspaper will explain the waylaid train,
the broken man’s last idea. I will imagine
the conductor’s terror and hopelessness in the night
while you slept in hot air, and I kept watch,
knowing the stars, knowing the lives
that move in darkness, the sphere
that breathes when the sun moves away.
* * * * *
"Trestle and Embankment" was previously published in Whale Road Review.
Laura Lee Washburn, Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University, is the author of This Good Warm Place (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, 9th Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women. https://www.facebook.com/sekwhw