December 30, 2016

Mather Schneider

OUR MORNING TRAIN

My wife and I get up at 3 o’clock in the morning
and get ready for work,
drive in together.
She drops me off at the taxi yard
and then she goes to work at
McDonald’s.

It is dark in the morning and the streets
are mostly empty
at that time
and we are both tired
and feeling put-upon by
life, sipping our
coffee.

Along Aviation Highway
there are the train tracks
and each morning we look for the light
of the single eye of the train
coming through.
When we see the train we are both
happier somehow.

“There’s the train,” my wife says,
“Your favorite, now you won’t
be sad.”

“MY favorite?” I say. “It’s YOUR
favorite, you just don’t want to
admit it, the train makes you
all warm inside.”

“No,” she says, “not me, I am just happy
for you because I can see the light
in your eyes when you see
the train.”

“Oh, no,” I say. “You love that train,
Que niña!”

“Mira,” she says, “There’s the trenecito!”

The “little train” she calls it
though it’s not little at all, it’s huge,
bigger than life, deadly,
going somewhere.

“There’s your trenecito!” I say, “Aren’t you
glad?”

And we go on and on and it is
funny
because the truth is we both feel
better when we see that train.
Maybe that train is a symbol of somewhere else
we would like to be
a better life or future
for us.

The things that train
has seen, maybe that train is destined for some
beach somewhere
in Mazatlan or
Kino Bay or San Carlos and maybe
we both think about
that
sitting on a beach so far away
from this American drudgery, these small weak
creatures we feel
ourselves to be, this train that goes
through our hearts
always heading in the opposite direction
and with such surety to its movement
and pride in its horn.

It is probably all of these things
and none of these things
exactly.
Maybe it is just seeing a bit of life
moving at this ungodly hour
besides us
knowing that there are other poor shmucks
awake and working
when the normal human being
wants to be asleep.

Whatever it is, each morning
we look for that train

and when it is not there
we are both a little quieter

before that big
empty space.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016

__________

Mather Schneider: “I am a cab driver who writes poems. For many years my wife and I would get up together and drive in to work and I got a few good poems out of those commutes. The symbol of the train, which calls out to everyone I think, and the tenderness of two people who love each other in what is often a dark lonely world are what made this poem come to life.” (link)