Black Anecdote

by Andrew Seguin

selected by Rosanna Warren


A train in a tunnel brings with it the wind
that husked it on the outside and husks it

still, where within the mountain
dark is also on the roster of things a machine

will split yet be shrouded by. This machine
is the history of coal to steam to obsolete,

elements to evanescence, but makes the right line
across the country, almost level with the land

it splits into expanse on the sides of its advancing,
so the passengers' scan of the fields includes

unpicked potatoes and black acres
tarping the harvest, ground-green to pine-green

patches where the birds flush because an iron hum
upsets the balance in their talons. Or is it the noise

of attack, to humans undetectable, more scent
than sound? The wind that foreshadows the fox

also encircles the locomotive, speed combing
it back across the cars, where within the passengers

is the thought of how hard Henry's hammer fell
to beat a machine and hollow out a stone sleeve

like the one they are passing through, and it's not
their arms that pass through the granite but an arm

they are part of, the train, the land, the wind, a history
of wanting something on the outside to sustain something within.

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