Narrow Gauge to Silverton
We creep along the canyon edge,
the car side hovers
beyond the rails.
Around the bend
the steam whistle scream
rivals bald eagles soaring.
Soot from the straining engine
tears our eyes, tangles our hair.
Up the grade the engine huffs,
wheels clack on twin steel ribbons.
Our bodies jounce
in jarring rhythm.
Children squeal, adults gasp
through hairpin turns, country
wilder than grizzlies.
In white water under sheer walls
speckled trout search for pools.
With a massive tug and final snort
the train rolls into a meadow
lush with new grass, wildflowers
and bubbling stream.
Swings a large loop then chugs
backwards through town.
Western false fronts, saloons,
easy women long gone,
the mountain is scarred
with old gold mines, lost dreams.
He visits his new mountain retreat
in the bright colors of mid autumn,
stays home while his young wife
goes shopping. Stretches
his city-pale body
in the hot tub overlooking the lake.
Sighs in bliss, scrunches down, lifts his wine.
The first rain drops ice on his face, his chest.
Like a jack-in-the-box he leaps high. Regards
his soaked body, shrugs, sinks back in the tub.
Moments later, snow flakes dot his hair,
melt on his out-stretched tongue.
He slides deeper into warm water,
into a doze. Dream-fogged
eyes fly wide at a rustle by his ear,
alight on the muzzle of a black bear
sniffing close. Both parties blink.
One screams. The bear
©2006 by Patricia
Former psychology researcher, writer, editor, and lecturer, Patricia
Wellingham-Jones has recently been published in Red River Review,
Street Press, and Centrifugal Eye. She won the 2003 Reuben Rose
Poetry Prize (Israel), and is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. See more of her work at
her Web site.