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The Trains
Adele Kenny


We felt them first. Fingers pressed to the rails,
    a dull rumble filled our hands and hummed into
our arms before the cone of light, the great clatter

of metal against metal. Trestled high, above the
    bridge on Grand Avenue, we knew those tracks
went on forever, between trees that lined the ties

like stations of the cross. The hill was forbidden but
    holy, thick with clover, ripe with berries in spring.
The year I was nine, an April blizzard swept the

sky and we went to the trains in the dark. The wires
    strummed into sparks, the rails were a dazzle of
shadows. Our faces – ghosts of our selves – reflected

in every train car window, lines of breath etched in
    passing glass. Above us, chimney smoke hung like
smears of candle grease among the clouds.

We were grubby and poor, but we believed. We said
    our prayers, ate fish on Fridays, and never rode
those trains. We could only kneel in something like

wonder, something like praise, and wait for the
    tracks’ reverent shudder. The memory is a gauze
engine that time blows through and keeps me small.

This poem first appeared in the Paterson Literary Review (#36).
Used here with the author's permission.



Adele Kenny founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series, and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal, is the author of twenty-three books (poetry & nonfiction). Her poems have been published worldwide and have appeared in books and anthologies from Crown, Tuttle, Shambhala, and McGraw-Hill. She is the recipient of various awards, including NJ State Arts Council poetry fellowships, a Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, the 2012 International Book Award for Poetry, and Kean University’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. She has read in the US, England, Ireland, and France, and has twice been a featured poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Learn more about Adele at and


Post New Comment:
Beautiful nostalgia poem about childhood. Thanks
Posted 10/28/2014 08:02 PM
Have always loved this poem, Adele. Ah, childhood---great details!Congratulations and thanks to YDP for selecting it!
Posted 10/28/2014 09:02 AM
Larry Schug:
There is nothing like a train. I'll wait at a crossing, never frustrated by the delay, happily engaged in the sound and sight of a passing train. I could go on and on. This poem is right on on so many levels. I feel like it was written especially for me. Thank you, Adele
Posted 10/28/2014 08:05 AM
This was my childhood re-visited in ways I never would have remembered. Thank-you. Jayne, thank-you for the chuckle in the intro;)It's nice to see human pros.
Posted 10/28/2014 07:39 AM
Wonderful tone; wonderful language. Thanks!
Posted 10/28/2014 06:39 AM

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