Mid-Hudson Trainscape

Sun now clear of the ridge
glitters on sheets of ice
breaking and reforming
in ponds beside these tracks
A bleak winter trainscape
heading South toward Manhattan

The Hudson some eons past
swerving this way and that
plowed the cluttered slope
marking an efficient path
for a steady downhill ride
Albany to Grand Central Station

But water, more pliant than steel
turns quickly, even more abruptly
drops a foot or two or ten
with enthusiasm and sparkle
and with no apparent ill effects
moves which metal rails reject

I named the trainscape bleak
and it is, as much as can be seen
on the nearby eastern shore
from seats on a rigid metal car
swaying and lurching as it tries
to follow Hudson’s antic trail

Halfway up the hillside, sad houses
painted or faded to mute earth tones
back yards furnished with car parts
old appliances and broken toys
brave doomed gardens invaded
by mulberry willow and hemlock

Everything nearby in light
reflected from brown earth
and hillsides and filtered
through the dirty train windows
is brown, but across the river
intermittent bursts of color

Blue tarpaulins on boats in a marina,
yellow brick church halfway up a hill,
scarlet shingle roof lavished
on a vast Baroque structure
private school, retreat center
or home of a tasteless billionaire

Such sumptuous living is rare
sad houses easy to see on this side
must have peers on both sides
but West, across the river
here and there quite wide
distance is a reducing lens

At this distance you can see only
large white houses on ample lots
furnished with small vague items
pale gray and tan stone buildings
set high on the tops of hills
or promontories, expensive land

weed trees long since excised
leaving behind in casual array
or still more careful disarray
a select few maples and oaks
and a sycamore stately enough
to justify its own survival

Farther south hills to the west
beyond this valley rise in duochrome
Murky green gray near at hand
above a million white caplets
flicking on the river surface
then brown bank winter earth

Beyond brown flat lands
those slowly rising hills
still streaked with snow
erotically swirled, folded
creased and rounded
lie open to the morning sun


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