SHE TRAVELS ALONE
The sound of the train traveling over
tracks reminded her of her legs
pumping, rocking back and forth
on a fancy foot rest of metal - a
Singer Sewing Machine.
Legs with strong muscles - a
thimble on her thumb pushing cotton
over metal and then - sound stops.
Out of her window from her seat
on a train she view hills, meadows,
streams, ponds, and naked trees
kissing icicles - from a cold rain
the night before. Now a warm
wind brushes snow gathered late
Traveling slower, close to a town
small children wave at
strangers staring from small soiled
windows where she glanced at
impatient motorists at a railroad
crossing, she hears the whistle
from the train, over and over -
The train rocks now from
side to side, crossing Main Street,
every small town has Main Street
and cobblestone - as common as
garlic browning in olive oil - or
fresh tomatos ripened on her vine -
a single apple from the Fruit Man.
The conductor shouts, “Schenectady.”
Legs uncross – cross – nervous
squirming in her seat, fidgeting,
fussing over a wrinkle found on
her blue cotton dress and fingering a
corsage pinned to her gray overcoat.
In her mind she kept touching the
holes in her husband’s socks, reaching
for her pin cushion near large spools
of white thread, she sat at her kitchen
table and stitched - breaking thread
with her teeth.
The flowers disappear from her
dress - replaced in her mind by a
dingy apron dreanched by dirty water,
tied at her waist. Her hands raw -
scrubbing her husband’s skin.
Her body a machine, like her sewing
machine; her feet on the metal grate
her hands on her husband's back
over and over until soot is removed,
or when her feet no longer strong
enough to pump a black cast iron
sewing machine. The soot - he once
delivered coal - until a strike he
began delivering fruit on Erie -
where once the Erie Canal ran down
instead of a street.
She touches her old dress, glances
out the window knowing she needed
her children, their love - how fast
a world changed now John is dead.
His only friend blown to pieces -
never did testify - on this day she
Tears filled her eyes, her hands
clasped in prayer, her face covered
with guilt - she never won - she
fought for her children - and the
Fruit Men won.
Nancy Duci Denofio
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