Walking the Tracks
As a girl, I’d walk the rails the length of town,
thinking the summer into a vanishing point
between the side-by-side outcroppings
of scrubby trees just under the highway bridge.
Past the firepits of the railyard, muddy
currents flashed twenty yards underfoot,
and the water trapped in pools at the riverbank
warmed all afternoon like reptiles in the sun.
My Tevas left lazy prints on metal tracks.
I’d put a penny on the rails to watch it
transform into shine and curve by the heat
of speed. One afternoon, a man caught me.
It’s boys like you that derail these trains.
When I picked her up, she’d be warm and
smooth, hot through. On the Wisconsin
& Southern, the coal came by every night
at nine. It shook the house, and I felt it
all the way up in my bedroom. The train’s gone,
past the river. I stand before my childhood mirror,
turning chin left and right, balancing the track.
I squint to see a boy, a ripple driving away
from a place I thought firm–a place where I
jump out from the bushes just to hear a little
scream, just to startle myself to life.
Alexa Garvoille (@garvoille) is a queer educator and creative writing studies scholar currently pursuing an MFA at Virginia Tech. She edits poetry for NCTE’s English Journal, and her work has appeared in Lavender Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and the Adroit Journal.