telma, joanne, a train

never trust flowers

The rail clatters its rhythms but the carriages never move.
They’re always here, and through a frame, a door,
a window, a hole cut in a rainy mirror,
you can see them waiting.

Telma was painting the feature wall
with essence of vanilla. Joanne was reading
a possible book, perhaps the persistence of trains,
or a painting, the persimmonence of time.
She’d need her glasses to be sure.

Telma found it tedious to concentrate on vanilla.
“I’ve had thought, my sweetness, why don’t we visit tomorrow today?
We’ll take the train I saw reflected in your lenses.
We can’t afford a ticket, but we could travel
in the sleeping car, and dream our destinations.”

All aboard.

First stop city center, fashion dressed for spring,
coffee days, mobile phones with legs,
a peak hour jostle that wasn’t on the train
but disembarked in any case.

On they went to far beyond the summer,
to where the tattered solar blanket wrapped
the biosphere in smoggy citrus and ultra violet blooms,
to where the woolen winters they remembered
had migrated north of Polaris, the northern star.

A branch line to the bush,
autumnal perpetuum,
gum leaves shining brass, metal foliage ramset
to pearly fossil tree trunks,
and while the noncommittal sunset was trying to decide
whether it would or whether it wouldn’t,
Joanne and Telma’s journey wound itself in reverse,
like the spring in a novelty clock.

‘The end of time’s persimmonence is a graceful and a wondrous place.’

“It’s our own backyard, Joanne, I recognize the weeds.”

‘The fading light, the scuttling darkness.’

“That’s a rat. He lives in our back shed.”

‘And here’s the axis that might still turn the world
toward the better.’

“A lot like the rotary clothesline. See the pegs?”

‘Just listen a little, Telma.’

(A quiet middle eight plays.)

“I hear two soft machines.
They’re pumping.
Corpuscles are running through two fluidic bodies.”

Salvador Dali’s the persistence of memory; in terms of speculative train travel, the amazing art in Miyazaki’s spirited away stands out for me.
never trust flowers—abstract algebra from flowers

12 thoughts on “telma, joanne, a train

    • Thanks. I agree, trains are great for speculative fiction–Mieville’s Railsea and The Iron Council, Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga, Pratchett’s Raising Steam and so on. I find the anima confusing, who has one and who doesn’t. Of course fiction is different :).

  1. I love this. I often travel in the sleeping car and dream my destinations. I want to read a possible book too. And ultra violet blooms! In what kind of garden may I grow a persistent, imminent persimmon?

    • Glad you liked it. I know nothing about gardening, but I never hesitate to offer advice on any topic. For persimmonence fruit you need to cut a hole in a mirror, go through and plant the seed somewhere near a tiger lily and a rose, and it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the red queen.

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