Train Travel in the Quiet Car

 

Sign on ceiling:  "Please refrain from loud talking or using cell phones in this car."

 

A train trip! A train trip!

Heavenly bliss!

Oh, how I love to ride

Northeast Corridor

Amtrak rails in the Quiet Car.

 

No screaming kids

running in aisles.

No voices of angry parents

attempting to corral them.

 

Time to relax, sleep

talk with interesting strangers,

practice texting,

thumb through magazine,

delete old emails,

finish reading novel,

snack, sleep.

 

I engage

in conversation with astute

British woman, first rail companion.

She describes her job as museum curator.

We share mutual admiration

for British actors and films

on slow ride from Richmond to DC.

 

Our conversation rudely interrupted

when we receive glaring stares

from nearby passengers and

loud "Shush!"

We lower our voices.

 

When I move across aisle

to charge cell phone,

I am caught off-guard

by  new passenger

who took my seat.

He, too seems impressed by

curator repartee

but soon distracted

by his laptop on food tray.

We journey through

Maryland toward Baltimore

on our north-bound route,

glimpsing panoramic views

of shoddy row houses,

back-sides of dingy factories, 

abandoned buildings

in afternoon sunlight.

 

Soon, consoled by new seat-mate--

pleasant engineer, who will

detrain at next stop, Philly.

We quietly share

digital photos of grandkids

before arrival at 30th Street Station.

 

Alone again,

I speak on cell phone to daughter

as we pass through Newark  

with coat over my head

to muffle my voice.

"When will we reach New Haven?"

 

Woe is me! Three more hours to go!

I want to leap from window

that does not open!

I long to breathe fresh air--

touch bare branches

of spindly trees racing by,

dive with cormorant

in placid brown river,

fly with migrating geese

in V- formation heading south.

 

Instead--I remain trapped

in moving steel prison,

suffocating, pitching side to side

to stretch legs traversing long aisles,

hot, breathing putrid air,

silent, sick of silence--

awaiting next stop, NYC Penn Station.

Too many people share my space.

I  have suffered angry stares,

and am nearly lame from sitting.

I have been derailed!

A train trip! A train trip!

Hell fire!

Oh, how I loathe riding Amtrak rails

in Northeast corridor

quiet car!

Next time--give me the

NOISY car, please,

            or...

an airplane ticket!

 

Diane de Echeandia

 

Bio: Diane de Echeandia writes poetry and short stories.  She has won awards in competitions for both, and her poetry has appeared in SUNY Delhi Agate; Art Inspires Poetry: an anthology of ekphrastic poems;  A Carolina Christmas an anthology of Stories and Poems.