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Another Poem from Volume 18

This poem describes in rich and poignant detail a ride on the Chama railroad in Northern New Mexico.

Riding The Rails

by Teral Katahara

The steam engine climbs
sun clears the ridge top
a brilliant show of yellow aspen
among dark green conifers

I sway in the rocking railroad car
Rocky Mountain air on my face and in my lungs
whistle blows one long, one short sound
wheels squeak on narrow tracks built long ago
when there were no roads

Around the curve
a golden meadow cut by glistening stream
white steam drifts over me in this Pinos valley
a soaring red tail hawk hunts the river
his shadow follows on rocks
we ascend to the summit
where in winter twenty feet of snow
covers sheds and track

people live in isolated cabins
horses roam free
a lone calf runs down a trail

I am just passing through

After a stop for lunch at Osier
that once had a store and rooming house
the sky fills with clouds and gusts turn cold
steam is black as
fumes fill the cars

Out the window
red poison oak climbs over fallen railroad-tie fences
abandoned telephone poles lean from years of wind
memories of Jicarilla Apaches with long braids
come then fade
as we cross the Continental Divide
in our red leather seats

The cover art of Volume 18, by Nancy Frost Begin, appealed to the editors in part because of the openings – two white rectangles and a window showing a road or river, which draw the viewer in, suggesting there is more beyond. The writing in this issue will draw you into many journeys of the mind, in works which often say more than at first appears.

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