There was this time I saw a boy who rode inside a train;
he rode alone, and read his book, in silence filled with rain.
I peeped him through the windows while I walked along the tracks
and, although I hadn’t seen his face, I knew his story front to back.
Laid across his silken cover, etching deep into his spine,
read the boy’s Life title of cursive script in lines so fine.
His face said “People-Please” and his body fit the bill
as he packed himself like sausage tight against the window’s sill.
From within his inside cover, I stole stories of his youth,
velvet trees left to their swaying over adventures he’d once took;
Yet beneath the trees’ foundation squirmed a mottled, rancid worm,
fed fat on golden-memory fruits that, in hope, its loss return.
On the Boy’s dedication, I read the Names now scrawled upon his life
of kin he’d loved or friends he’d lost, blood-ink turned black with strife.
I learned all the more about him as the list went on and on:
“Forgiveness” was a name unwrit amongst the others he’d done wrong.
Among its countless pages, I perused this boy’s Life Book
written deep in charcoal-forehead lines, stark skin, and blank-page look.
It saddened me. He’d robbed his youth! Very soon, I deduced a plan:
by rewriting his ending, I would make this Boy a Man.
Upon the crossing at the rail-road spikes, I laid my pile of bones,
Stoled, from skeletons, the boy once kept in closets dark and cold.
I forced the train’s conductor to bring their journey to halt
and stifled out their outcries before its passengers claim fault.
For each and every passenger sitting, stalled, aboard that still steam-train,
I forced the ones who weighed it down to exit. In the rain.
As fists beat hard on windows and tempered glass rattled from their rage,
from out one window’s opened crack, I tossed their loaded-brick luggage.
And so with the train now lightened with the one’s who bore their load,
I snatched the boy’s Life Book up, quick, then tossed it in the road:
All those within the carriage car, we Lookers, sat and watched
as rain soaked through its glossy front, whitening pages from black-ink blots.
Between two smallest fingers, the sodden thing was carried on,
before I ripped page from fragile binding till the paper part was gone;
once every Looker had received a page, accompanied by pen,
they wrote a moment of their life the boy had helped fill in.
Once each was done and gathered did I sew the bindings up,
a smattering of pages, corners ruffed and scrawls screwed up,
the passengers all watched me while I produced my own Life Book;
from its thousand empty pages, more than half is what I took.
These I added to the others while the group passed back their pens
and I couldn’t help but smile as the Boy took his Book again.
At first, he stared quiet blankly at the cover, lost for words;
till, from his bag, procured a pencil and wrote “I thank you; Praise the Lord.”
Then without too much ado I stepped back and exited the train,
Waved farewell to its passengers, gay smile wide in pouring rain.
Pilfering through the Lookers’ luggages, I gathered up my things
before I waved one last goodbye to the Man now flying ‘cross rails on steely wings.