Trains in the Dark

Mardelle Fortier

In a long Midwestern night the lonely train

sings as it passes like a ghost

and I burrow deeper into blankets

to dream of Paris, Gare du Nord.

In darkness, Degas leaves the train

and strolls, half-blind to his studio,

where his eyes caress a little ballerina

for painting after painting of poses.

In deep fog-feathered evening the train

beats as it marks the seasons passing

and I wake from dreams and try

to sleep, stirred by fantasies. 

Rocked by a train, Degas remembers

touching Cassatt's neck as she paused

between brush strokes. His acid tongue

wiped out a romance fragile as pastels.

Through dark the train moans as it passes

breathing across my life--never entering,

leaving me restless and longing; music

like a fickle lover's ambiguous kiss.