The Train

The familiar, low slung hills don't look much different now than they did when covered wagons and buffalo carved ruts in the prairie grass.

On the edge of town oil smoke rises over the power plant.

A dust cloud stirs the red dirt loose in the low ditches along the road.

Mud river is sluggish today.

It's 1500 miles from here to San Francisco.

I guess there wasn't much to remind her of the warm, electric breeze that blew down Market Street, or the downtown streets at night, lined with light drenched galleries, and elegant shops, or the people, wrapped in their unconscious specialness, or her face, love bright, and defiant when she told me she would come home with me.

Home, where haunted by memories of winter's relentless grip on the mountains, cowboys sometimes shiver in the summer sun. Home, where her precious dream of life became wind burned, work hardened and blunted by narrow minded practicality.

Memories: sub zero snow storms on the open plain, A dead calf frozen into an ice sculpture by the wind, her cold, cracked hands bleeding on the water bucket, a final hurried kiss as she escaped out the door. Sharp hot rain on my face as I watched the west bound trains' determined shadow grow tiny and unrecognizable against the familiar sky.