American Flyer

I remember sneaking down to the railroad
in the afternoons when Mom wasn’t looking
to lay copper coins on the tracks
or sometimes 10-penny nails
for you to transform with your weight
from simple and basic
into exotic, imaginative shapes
I could recover after you’d passed

I could hear you coming
long before I could see you
long before you entered the tunnel
just a murmur stirring the air
rhythmic, indistinct, uncertain even
but growing louder with every pulse
chugging, chugging, chanting
America, America, America
2:00 pm every afternoon
you could set your watch by it
something you could count on

The pitch of your song ascending
closer and closer you came
your mass
your power
your energy unbound
and my heart beating with pride
matched your tempo
you mesmerized me
you transformed me
I could do anything
I could be anything
nothing could stop me

And that ecstatic moment when you arrived
full force
full throttle
loud and brash and full of yourself
frightening by your size
I dared stand as close as I could
letting the whoosh of air push me back
nearly knocking me over
I watched you pass on by
and as you faded so did I
my heart slowed
my expectations settled
your chant fell off into the distance
whispering, sighing, crying
great again, great again, great again
until you were gone
and I could search the tracks and ties and
bedrock for my remnant prizes
to make into fanciful tiny swords
for playing at war
and flattened copper medallions
with distorted images of Abraham Lincoln
to be awarded to imaginary heroes when we won

Marv Himmel
April 12, 2017 ©

2 thoughts on “American Flyer”

  1. Wow! I love the the subtle allusions and undertones which contrast the awe and majesty of a bygone America, with the apprehension and folly of contemporary times. Masterful!!!

    1. Thanks. This was a fun piece to construct. I’m glad you noticed the nuances. Not everyone who has seen it has.

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