“We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman, or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you. And every few years a new lot is laid down and run over; so that, if some have the pleasure of riding on a rail, others have the misfortune to be ridden upon.”Henry David Thoreau, from “Where I Lived and What I Lived For,” Walden
Walking to work last Wednesday morning, I looked down the railroad tracks that cross Broad Street to see the sun, rising in a late-August sky. In that instant, I imagined the sun riding the rails into the heavens, running its usual course across the firmament. It was one of those passing moments of transcendence, an invitation to meditate on some truth or still, small voice echoing into our present, just as Thoreau’s words echo forth from August 9th, 1854.
For me, Thoreau’s metaphor of the sleeper speaks significantly to our world today. To think that a few sleepers that refuse to stay pinned down can dislodge a 500 ton steam locomotive should give one reason to pause. However, my meditation of a Wednesday night siting on James’s front porch, sipping hazelnut coffee and eating a slice of zucchini bread provided by his daughter, led me to the following seven stanza poem.
I’ve made a point to unplug from mainstream media as much as possible. I’ve seen its effect on the masses, and I can scrounge up enough darkness and reasons for dismay without their help. Sex trafficking alone and the scourge of pedophilia is enough to make one lose any hope in the human race and true justice. This poem invites the reader to be a passenger pulled by the engine of the sun. It does not ride upon fixed rails of steel, but steals away to the third heaven where it shines light upon the darkened earth below. The tickets have been paid for. The course is set. Leave those metal monsters of morbidity and malevolence and become a passenger of light.
Vincent H. Anastasi 2020
Down the tracks that to the east
run parallel until they meet,
or seemingly, at heaven’s feet,
I looked this Wednesday morn,
and motoring on iron beams
with power more profound than steam,
I beheld as in a dream
the sun now come reborn,
and for a spell, it looked as if
it rode upon those rails so stiff
’til I despaired, it would not lift
to light the darkened world.
But e’en before I walked away
the sun slipped slow from ballasts gray
to fill the sky, diffusing rays
with flaming flags unfurled,
and still it soared as I moved on
enlivened by its silent song
and my heart burned with visions drawn
upward on surging sun,
no more to sleep beneath the plates
held firm with spikes to bear the weight
of engines fueled by coals of hate —
O! let these love lines run! —
without a flange to hold these wheels
to rigid tracks of rusty steel,
but ever with unflagging zeal,
diffuse your holy light!