“Childhood Journey” by Susanne R. Bowers

Susanne R. Bowers


If I close my eyes I am there again, standing
on the platform in a proper dress and shoes,
staring at the train that will take me far
away to a school in the east, a crisp fifty
dollar bill tucked inside my pocket, saying
goodbye to the couple I will miss the most,
into whose room I would creep at night,
tiptoe softly down backstairs, find my spot
between them, warm, where I wasn’t afraid,
stuck like a burr to their socks.

If I close my eyes I am in the kitchen,
watching them prepare breakfast for my
father, the big man in the camel’s hair
coat, who is always in a hurry, who leaves
in a hurry one day to move into the Biltmore
Hotel and never come back except to pick up
his laundry, even his ironed handkerchiefs,
and bring things to be signed on the dotted

If I close my eyes I am aboard the streamliner,
counting the train tracks by their sound,
counting the red barns, the snow fences, the
tobacco nets, counting the bleaks and the
grays and the slushy whites, counting how
many times I flush the toilet by mistake
until there is no water left on the train.

If I close my eyes I am at the school, far
away, keeping step to the dance of rules,
to the bells signaling classes, meals, and
bed, crossing off the days on the calendar,
hearing the train whistles in the distance,

When it gets very dark and I close my eyes,
I am there again, in the house, on the train,
at the school, hiding under the covers,
pressing up against a wall, sucking in a
breath, holding myself as still as a dead
bird until morning.

from Rattle #9, Summer 1998


Susanne R. Bowers: “My passion is creativity in all of its aspects and manifestations. I’m fascinated with psychiatry and the brain. I see life as a series of poems that help me sort out and understand feelings.”

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