Your Father On The Train of Ghosts by G. C. Waldrep

Your father steps on board the train of ghosts.
You watch him from the platform:

somehow, he doesn’t look as old
as you expected him to be.

You think this must have something to do
with the light, or maybe

how much bigger the train is.
It stretches down the track
a long way, as far as your eyes can make out.

It’s like a black bullet
that keeps speeding toward you,
you think, and then:

No, it’s like a very long train, that’s all.

Somewhere on board the train, your father
is choosing a seat.  Maybe

he’s already found one, has settled in,

picked up a magazine or newspaper
someone else left lying there,

is flipping through it, idly.
Maybe he’s looking out the window, for you
you would like to think, waving,

only you’ll never see it
because of the reflected glare.

Or maybe he’s not looking for you at all.
Maybe he’s watching the hot air balloons
that have just appeared

all over the sky, ribbed like airborne hearts
of the giants Jack killed.

In the stories, Jack has no father.
This would explain a lot, you are thinking

as the train begins to pull away:

his misplaced affections,
stealing the harp of gold that played
all by itself.  Around you,

men and women and children
are standing on the platform, shouting, waving,
hugging themselves.
The wind is cold; it must be March.

You would want that kind of music
if you were Jack, wouldn’t you?

G. C. Waldrep

Listen to Your Father On The Train of Ghosts

About G. C. Waldrep

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About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from http://russellboyle.com
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6 Responses to Your Father On The Train of Ghosts by G. C. Waldrep

  1. indytony says:

    I like this a lot. It’s filled with bittersweet longing.

  2. Tom Gething says:

    Wonderful poem by a poet I was unfamiliar with. Reminds me of the great short story by another poet, Delmore Schwartz, titled “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.”

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