Fidelia: A Season of Friendship

My old friend, Pearl,

lifts a licked finger to gauge the wind’s direction

and begins to run, to stoke air into flame

with legs muscular as a steam engine’s pistons.

Running is what she knows, that

and the vows we swore as children, the hiss of a knife

drawn across two wrists, twin red snakes

uncoiled from veins to touch forked tongues

ever so lightly, to taste oaths

written in blood. She never blamed her father, nor mother

who advised her to run and hide outside their shack

until he collapsed into a drunken stupor, a railroad man

who disappeared one day where the rails

join at the horizon, that juncture where sky meets earth

and a train, a ghost train moreover, stops

and opens its door to let you board. The last time I saw her

she claimed a train passed her open window

on the twelfth floor at the same time each night

and true to her word she boarded it not three weeks later,

a sleeping compartment no less, the mind

feeling its way free of a life lived on the wrong side of the tracks..

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