On A Train

A poem by Michael Earls

(For Christine and Tom)


Oases are charming 'mid the Afric sands,
Beautiful is summer after rain;
But the sweetest blossoms may be eyes and hands,
And two playful children on a train.

Aileen and her brother, home from holiday,
Left behind them Narragansett town;
Innocence like music followed all the way,
Summer glowed upon the cheeks of brown.

She that was their escort read a magazine:
They were young, and trains are dull at night;
All the passing signals, red and blue and green,
Counted up the miles for young delight.

I was there behind them, earnest in a book:
Lo, the journey turned to fairyland,
When, like magic mirrors, dusty windows took
Aileen's dancing eyes and waving hand!

That is how it happened on a creeping train,
How a play began without a word,--
Peekaboo reflections in a window-pane,
Such a story-hour was never heard.

Aileen and her brother, strangers were to me;
They were friendly for the cloth I wore;
And through leagues of window, youthful play could see
We were friends to be for evermore.

So we passed the hamlets, passed the miles of night
In a fairyland of silent games,
Till the travel ended in the Worcester light,--
Yet we parted, strangers in our names.

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