If you start off running
from the swirly slide at Garrison park,
right when you hear the train whistle,
run through the low tunnel of trees,
run past the sweat stained
guys playing basketball,
run down the gravelly
dirt path with the occasional root sticking out,
you might be able to see the train going by.
When my two-year old hears the whistle,
he always wants to see it pass,
but sometimes, he forgets to run
and with his short legs, the trees look tall
and he dawdles, not understanding
that the train will go on without us.
So it happens that we get all the way
down the trail only to catch a quick glimpse
of the last freight car speeding
by through the opening in the city forest.
I want him to understand
you have to run for what you
want, or you might miss it,
but he’s only two.
Every now and then we get lucky.
The last time, when we heard
the whistle far in the distance
and we ran hard, burning, all out of breath,
we got there in time to see it.
I counted 102 cars on that train
and the only legible graffiti I saw
was a three word phrase:
Die and Sleep.
The only thought I had was
instead, they should have graffitied
one simple word:
A nation of warriors, tribes of women,
daughters of daughers
and one they called Laira
who carried two knives at her waist,
sword in hand.
Whose battle cry was the howl of wolves,
creep creeping toward any hidden enemy,
blocking all who might invade.
A slaughter of all humans in her way,
the campfires at night,
the crackle song of their embers.
Her wife, her comrades,
her children asleep in huts,
blanketed by the woven wool of lambs.
Ribbons plaited into the braids of her hair,
night after night she kept quiet guard
of the free minds of thousands
of the blossoming bodies and voices
and imaginings of all the world might be
and all they might be in the world
her sword turning, turning
toward unknown sounds of night.
Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has a poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Edge, Twenty, unseenfiction.com, Border Senses, and on various blogs. Every day she eats both popcorn and dark chocolate, and when she can, she loves riding trains with her son. She currently lives in Albuquerque, NM.