Mt. Washington, New Hampshire


Train number ten is dangerous.
Outside its cars, a precipice hides
in the mountain’s shadow
and I am small as a pebble.
On this train all of us shrink
in the ominous fog and wind
but the conductor is oblivious:
he does pull-ups on the railing,
throws a few shovels of coal
on the boiler, poses for pictures.
He’s thinking of his girl down the mountain.
He’s remembering their date last night,
the cold beer and billiards game.
I’m thinking this train is a fallen horse
about to slide backward like a lost star
to crash at the bottom.
I know the Diapensia on the slope
is two hundred years old.
I know that cairns mark the way
for hikers and train escapees.
I shouldn’t worry about the wind.
I shouldn’t worry about the ravines
I know are there.
The conductor is dozing up front
and does not see the fog clear when I do.
He doesn’t see land appear, or the clouds
strewn on a luminous, vast horizon
that makes me grasp for my useless
small camera just as the train halts
on the top of the world.

© 2005 Christine Klocek-Lim