By Sister Marcia Kruse, ASC

I am Sister Marcia Kruse, ASC and have the privilege of living in Rome for a couple of years, where I have always dreamed of working. At my community’s request, I am learning to speak and translate Italian. Rome for me has been fertile ground for writing. I have all kinds of ideas and scraps of poems and homemade psalms.

Train tracks passed through our little town.
Once in a while a train.
It would blow its horn, but rarely stopped.
We played on the tracks,
Rocks, wooden ties, slick steel rails
That tested our sense of balance.
Hands outward, one foot in front of the other.
We’d put our ear to the cold steel track
To hear if a train was coming.
When we sensed a rumble
We’d slip a penny on the track,
Then stand back and watch it get flattened
By tons of weight.
The train comes, rushes through, and is gone.
Silence on the tracks for another twenty-four hours,
Silence, rocks, wood ties,
Steel dark, brown, black, oily, dirty.
Who sweeps and polishes railroad tracks?
A dark, dirty strip through our little town.

Around the world trains pass
They don’t stay to entertain us
Passengers and produce move on and out
And then on the tracks is nothing,
Not even a flattened penny.
All that rock, heavy ties, shining steel
Just for a moment’s passing.
The town gives over its land, beauty,
To that dark and dirty strip
For a moment that passes ever so quickly.
The train doesn’t care
About us, the town.
We’re left with smoke and dust
And a dying rumble
While it roars on to glory.

How many tracks cross my heart?
Am I a track – for someone else?
Spattered with oil and soot?
Do I open my arms for coming and goings?
My little town, my little heart,
Is it better
Or worse
For all these comings and goings,
The trains in my life?

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