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Monday, August 03, 2009


by Beth Winegarner

Trains shuddered out of the subway,
A stampede of sound not loud enough
To trample my baby's cries. On the platform
I bent over his carriage, searching for the right
Combination of words, binky, and patting
That might soothe him. His brow
Was furrowed in that old-man expression

Newborns get. He looked like my
Father would in the instant before scolding us
And sending us to bed without supper.
It was our first time out of the house since
His birth, and the city seemed somehow too
Sharp and blurry at the same time.

I never saw the second train bearing down,
Nor the other passengers scattering. We only
Heard the thunder of steel buckling against steel,
Thick dust sighing out into the sunny afternoon.
My boy went silent, and we both looked up, blinking.
Riders poured out of the trains,
Some of them bloody, some of them screaming.

Sirens and flashing lights followed. Later,
They said the driver blacked out as he pulled
Into the station. I wondered briefly how his life
Would change after that day. While ambulances
Carried the injured away on stretchers, I rolled
My son back down the ramp toward home. We
Did not fit into the world again just yet.

Beth Winegarner is the author of Sacred Sonoma, Beloved, and Read the Music. Her poems have appeared in Tertulia, Bardsong, Hot Metal Press, Lime Green Bulldozers and Dispatch. She lives in San Francisco with her partner and daughter.