Once I took a stroll into a dying memory,
with two friends lying dead in the gutter
and with two pence in my one pocket.
All the barrios were shuttered.
No one would let me in.
And the lamplights were capped
with the cracked and fading glass of a broken bulb.
While windows of vandalized stores
were closed at half mast,
and people stared at a figure that set no cast,
I walked toward the grave of a bridge with no brine,
where I saw my shadow
lying on the railroad tracks,
waiting on the 3 AM train from East Central.
Within ten seconds of a narrow moon,
the locomotive came on by,
its coal burner set to fire on a broken stove,
and its wheels as high as the Mayor's house,
while steam pocked with specks of motes
poured from its chimney of cast iron.
And this old 3 AM rail trampled and cranked
over that dark shadow I'd once lost,
driving it into the ground,
down into the winter's layer of deep snow.
Then as the cars and cabs drove by and past,
over the hill and toward the valley of Monocacy,
I realized with my own regret and my own fear
that this train hadn't run in many a year.
And after minutes and seconds of waiting,
I reached down toward those crackling tracks,
and found my shadow,
somehow whole as if untouched,
but fragile like a friend.
I wrapped it about me like a warm coat,
as I left the grave of old 3 AM,
looking for a job and a companion,
while other mists and other shadows
rose from a bridge with no rail and no brine.