Last night, I fell asleep to the sound of a train in the distance. With the rumble of the engine and the mournful song of the horn came a flood of memories. For much of my life, I lived in the proximity of train tracks and I was surprised by how its sounds returned memories to me.
When I was a child living in California, my house was only a block away from a track. Several times during the day, the windows and doors in our house rattled as the trains passed. I remember walking along the tracks, imagining where they would lead me if I kept walking. When I felt the ground rumble with an approaching train, my heart quickened with anticipation for the frightening energy of what approached.
And for more than 25 years, I lived within hearing range of a train that passed by our neighborhood several times a day. Often, as I lay in bed at night, I would listen for the train. Sometimes it came as a lullaby, soothing me to sleep with its deep rumble. Sometimes it was a soundtrack to my dreams, taking me to far away places. Sometimes it serenaded my loneliness.
Last weekend, my poem , “Sayonara,” won second place at Ozark Creative Writers Conference. It is in the Tanka form, (Five lines, not to exceed 31 syllables) which is a form of Japanese poetry similar to Haiku (Three lines, 5-7-5 syllables):