september sadness

The Amtrak 370 won’t get you there on time but maybe you’ll get the seat to yourself. Guided by the lake, the dunes, the leaves just on the verge of yellowing but summer’s not gone yet. Two girls in white gowns watching from the church’s open mouth, fireworks for sale, Cindy or Mary or Luna’s Diner with the windowful of Sunday morning regulars. Redamak’s is still open but you haven’t been since family car rides weren’t heavy with silence. 

You’ve smelled the Midwest green a thousand times but you never quite recall it in January. 

On the train in your own seat while the rest of the car sleeps. One day your friends will stop calling and your parents won’t be waiting at the pizza place when the train pulls in. You’ll lay alone in your childhood bunk bed and listen to the house creak at night, echoes of the family that used to fill the silence. How many times can you push someone away before they stop trying, you wonder, as the train creeps through yellow wildflowers and infinite prairie grasses. Fall threatens, with crisp nights and falling leaves, and even the most beautiful summer nights are somber because it won’t last. 

You are breaking but maybe you’ll make it through one more train ride. 

September sadness is watching summer fade away and knowing each season there are fewer people to call. You can’t stop it so give it a warm farewell; knees in the dirt, heat rising through your back, one final whistle as the train sinks in the setting sun.

Full poem available in Capsule Stories Summer 2020 edition.