the change swarming

cars of all colors and conditions
piled three high
a wall that bends around a corner
syracuse, colorado
moving into the light/light moving into the day
revealing a shift
cornfields giving way to
something that looks/feels
scrubby desert brush
a few stray tumbleweeds
sage and straw-gold colors
locusty trees
and cows that have more of a
beef than dairy sense about them
a two mile dam
and the john martin reservoir
that stretches out behind it
conductor calls our attention
out the right hand side of the train
says the reservoir is very low
partially due to the kansas vs. colorado
water rights dispute that kansas won
demure sue calls me
says her son runs 13 miles as a warm up some days
says it might behoove you to
appeal to a higher power
(regardless of what or who that is to you)
at this juncture
how wonderful, how amazing she says
about the journey/residency
it’s going to change the course of your life
it may not be choice a or b
it may be c, d or e she says
or a mix of all i reply
what about not going back she says
you have no return ticket
last nights falafel wrap half
for this mornings breakfast
and just like the kirksville pizza
it tastes better the next day
sue, whose sister is
dying of cancer one seat over from me
and margaret whose sister is the
full-time caretaker of a bed-ridden husband
just down the aisle
i think of the grief
this train carries
the change
swarming all our lives
sandia mountains
(thought to be named for the watermelon
because of their reddish color at sunset
coupled with a thin zone of green conifers
[the ‘rind’] near the top)
growing along much of the route:
jerusalem artichoke
velvet leaf
desert asters
woman in the seat behind me calls out
when she sees them
you’ve got good eyes i say
mother nature at its best she says
i don’t remember her name
but i think it involved an H
we trade places we’ve been and
places we are headed
she knows sorghum because
her dad is kenyan
see you later i say
boarding the shuttle
something in her like
a shared language
hand-painted sign for
the veteran’s farmers project
to my right as the shuttle
pulls out of the train station
not bad, albuquerque, not bad
paused in the sage-brush flats
we drop off roy, fellow shuttle passenger
whose wife is a kick-ass nurse
and who he himself
worked with the houston port authority
mostly oil and steel he says
when i ask what the bulk of materials is
that came through the port
roy who bought my coconut water
at the gas-stop (buffalo thunder)
how i want to stay there for a while
in that gravel driveway
sucking up the sage smell
and taking in the purpling sunset view

there is no zoning here
that’s why you have a mcdonald’s
in the middle of the historic district
says the shuttle driver who only
identifies himself as mr. happy
as we approach town
on highway 68, the low road


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