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Departure

The train pulls out of the station
and ten years ago the baker's wife waved
out the back door of the bakery that opens on the track

and everyone in the shop darted to the windows
to offer manual farewells to the city
rapidly leaving small-town worlds behind in the guise
of a purple-striped T.

And they were painting the mural on the back of the depot:
artists and buckets of paint copying
a jungle none of them ever saw

in a rush of color dizzying to the people buying bread -
clumsy strokes transformed into a meaningful painted wilderness
at the most civilized heart of the town
so full of cows and marshes, a one-on-one-on-one juxtaposition.

We ate on the plastic-red benches of a nineties-popular chain
where sundaes had names and faces
and when the bells went off we rushed outside to wave goodbye

to the same train that always passed our high wooden fence
in the backyard of the grey house, speckled with mint patches
and full of train-inspired laughter.

The train pulls out of the station
but the ice-cream store doesn't notice
and its back door and windows are firmly shut

and the Dunkin' Donuts across the street no longer sells smiling sundaes
and in our house two blocks away, painted trim white, we're lucky
even to hear the bells warning of departure.

And the mural, cracked and changed with age,
smiles sadly with wise wild eyes -
it heralds the future where wild spontaneity gains responsibility
over the too-reasonable world-weary dying youth

who don't know where they are, don't know
what used to be. Don't know who they are
as they leave for the city with no one to wave goodbye.



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