Raleigh, North Caroline

February 20, 2008
By Baobao Zhang, Alexandria, VA

Perhaps only wistful romantics like us would
wake before dawn to sip tea and watch the world pass by.
On a hazy windowpane, I traced the stark shadows of pines
branded with frost cracks and blight—
their sickly hands clawed a crimson sky overhead.
Before this vista had a chance to linger,
another flashed before our eyes.
A stretch of rusted fence
pricked the landscape with jagged barbs and caution signs.
“Bowater’s Paper Mill lies ahead.”
Jesse’s familiar voice broke the silence.
“You see that dark smoke rising?
Well, that’s how you know we’re nearing Raleigh.”
He bitterly pronounced each syllable of the truth like a defeated Adam,
fixed with a backward glance—
unable to accept his expulsion from Paradise.

I held my breath and prayed
as Train No. 92 roared pass the tragedies of North Caroline.


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