The Railroad Peace This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Out in the January air, I sit on a fallen tree limb. Before breaking off branches to make a handy seat for my notebook and me, I asked the limb's permission and I wonder why. It was an unconscious act, but now it seems an appropriate gesture, since in all the earth it felt as if it were only me and the tree .... It had to have been young when it fell; the winter nakedness reveals the thin trunk and even thinner limbs that never had the opportunity to grow the countless rings that children delight in counting.

I wonder how it feels to a tree, to be felled before old age, before giving itself to the birds, squirrels and raccoons. Or, for that matter, what does an elderly tree think and experience at its end? Does it scream in agony as its roots are slashed from the soil, or does it sigh in peace as it lays its leafy head to rest for the first time in decades? As I ponder these questions, the chilly breeze whips brown strands of hair across my eyes, across my words.

My cherry seat is comfortable; she makes no complaints as I write upon what ironically was once her cousin.

My seat is on the embankment of the set of seven railroad tracks that runs through my town. It is a place I have always been forbidden to go, have always been terrified to dream of venturing. And as I trudged back here through slushy snow, gravel, old railroad ties, I realized I was totally alone, on the brink of my eighteenth birthday, female. And then, though I should have run away in horror at these facts, I feel a profound sense of triumph. The large steel cars with their cumbersome wheels no longer intimidate; rather, they beckon, knowing that I need to soothe a jumbled mind and scarred body. Their metal silence, I find, is comforting; they do not intrude as I had imagined they would. Instead, the endless queue of boxcars holds its cargo, accompanying me in thought, nourishing me with an inspiration that I had believed to be dormant during these bitter winter months.

I wish that I had thought to count the Conrail cars - but that would entail walking a few more miles, spending a few more hours. And as it approaches sundown, I must bid my cherry seat and railroad companions adieu, until another hectic day calls me to their healing solitude. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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