Train Of Thoughts
My father was a locomotive engineer. He hauled things for a living.
We lived in the northeast end of Edmonton.
From my bedroom I could hear the sound of trains at night. In my blood, I know the long-long-short-long of the crossing whistle.
As a boy, I had trouble falling asleep.
My mom got some advice somewhere that it was okay if I listened to the radio and let the music pull me into slumber.
It was a thrill beyond words when Arlo Guthrie sang City Of New Orleans from the radio with the clicking numbers.
It took me a long time to figure out City of New Orleans was the name of the train. And longer to realize that it could communicate.
All along the southbound odyssey/The train pulls out at Kankakee/
And rolls along past houses, farms and fields
I loved the rhythm of that song. And the exotic words, like Illinois and Kankakee and New Orleans.
The three of the houses, farms and fields was delicious.
And this thought that a junkyard was a graveyard. Something moved into something it wasn't. But was. Metaphor.
And this thought that the car had some relation to the train, which had some relation to the land it carved through. And that this land did not recognize it.
I read books. I learned to write. I was pulled along.
I have tried to find the wheels rumbling beneath the floor. I have ried to marshal thoughts and pull readers and viewers along.
After midnight, we would get newspapers off the press and read the words the city would get when the sun came up.
My eyes moved along the rails of print.
Words and train cars. Some carried freight. Or ammonia. And graffiti.
That song came back the other day as I pedalled beside disappearing rails. And stopped for a coffee and The New York Times.
I still ain't heard the news.