“The Whistle Blew at the Usual Time” by Lucy Llewellyn Byard

Lucy Llewellyn Byard


Just as the 5 o’clock train clicked down the tracks
past the small clapboard houses on East Street,
past Mr. Heslip’s garden patch of weeds spiking
through his slatted weathered fence of blistered paint,
exposed gray wood awash in golden remains of the August sun,
past the junkyard dog whom I called Randy after my baby brother,
both missing two front teeth, past the woman—her fine blonde hair,
her tight satin dress, her bare white legs—who each night
blew ruby red kisses to the caboose man, waving her delicate fingers
at that faceless form heading out of town, fluttering them
like she was playing sweet notes in the soft humid air.

I watched her each night at the usual time and
after the train’s whistle had faded, after she disappeared
back into the small sad house at the end of East Street,
I blew the clouds a secret kiss, raised my hand
and practiced playing those notes.

from Rattle #19, Summer 2003
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