Timetable by Bruce Guernsey


Behind me this morning on the train,
in the early light made warm
through the window’s double-glass,
an old Amish man,
the rough of his beard gone white,
is singing to his wife, both of them
round and red-faced as apples
in their simple clothes, bonnet and hat,
their seat on the Amtrak
one of those looking south
as we head north to Chicago.

My back against theirs,
I close my eyes to listen
but in the privacy of their language,
in the seclusion of their ways,
I can’t make out the words
and hear instead the rails,
their heartbeat like hooves
as he hums to her in the sun,
one hand I dream in hers—the other, the reins,
their buggy’s glass lamp swinging in time
towards their farm in Arthur.

Suddenly awake, suddenly alive,
feeling suddenly happier than I have in months,
I want to call them you and me,
to sing to you in words
some guy going to a meeting in the city
can’t understand.
And oh, if I could hold your hand
just like that,
no one else on the train,
just the two of us in our buggy,
looking back.

by Bruce Guernsey, from From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010.

Editor’s Note: Possibly only someone who lives near the Amish (as I do), and who has also ridden Amtrak (as I have), will truly feel the rich imagery of this poem, but I like to imagine the emotional narrative will also reach readers who know nothing of buggies, trains, and love.


6 responses to “Timetable by Bruce Guernsey”

  1. Sarah Russell Avatar

    Wonderful imagery. Thank you.

    1. Bruce Guernsey Avatar

      Thank you so much. So glad you liked the poem. –Bruce G.

  2. Joan Kantor Avatar

    Transporting in its beautiful imagery; a poem so full of life and love!!

    1. Bruce Guernsey Avatar

      Very kind of you. Many thanks! –Bruce G.

  3. Bob Bradshaw Avatar
    Bob Bradshaw

    What a lovely narrative…so tenderly told.

    1. Bruce Guernsey Avatar

      Many thanks for your generous words. –Bruce G.

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