I have just posted Ann Ronald’s review of The Girl on the Traina thriller mystery by British author Paula Hawkins. It reminded me of another piece of writing about what is, or maybe not, seen from a train window and it, too, has the touch of a thriller. What I remembered is not a novel. It’s a poem by the late Mark Strand. His poetry has a special way of staying with you, as the good poems always do. The Whole Story

–I’d rather you didn’t feel it necessary to tell him, “That’s a fire. And what’s more, we can’t do anything about it, because we’re on this train, see?”

How it should happen this way
I am not sure, but you
Are sitting next to me,
Minding your own business
When all of a sudden I see
A fire out the window.

I nudge you and say,
“That’s a fire. And what’s more,
We can’t do anything about it,
Because we’re on this train, see?”
You give me an odd look
As though I had said too much.

But for all you know I may
Have a passion for fires,
And travel by train to keep
From having to put them out.
It may be that trains
Can kindle a love of fire.

I might even suspect
That you are a fireman
In disguise. And then again
I might be wrong. Maybe
You are the one
Who loves a good fire. Who knows?

Perhaps you are elsewhere,
Deciding that with no place
To go you should not
Take a train. And I,
Seeing my own face in the window,
May have lied about the fire.              –  Mark Strand

REASONS FOR MOVINGFrom Reasons for Moving 

Atheneum, 1968


2 Responses to What We See From Trains

  1. Elaine Starkman says:

    So much to read. Hard to do so.Love the one by Mark Stand who’s not w/us
    any longer. Elaine

    • Elaine – thanks so much for commenting. You know how long I have loved this poet and just about everything he wrote. He will be missed, but I’ve got everything he wrote (including children’s books) and can read him whenever.

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