Pennies and steel snakes

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Photo by d.r. wilsey jr.

Train tracks meander alongside the Susquehanna river just over the bank from my house. From Spring until Fall, the whistle of the steel behemoth can be heard bouncing through the river valley like a rubber ghost. As a child, its haunting tune would pull me running through my yard and across the street to stare down over the hill, catching a glimpse of boxcar after boxcar trailing the rumbling engine. Winding like a trudging, steel snake down the track. 

If my friends and I were lucky, we'd hear the whistle early enough to give us time to grab a fistful of pennies and run down to the tracks. I'd place a few along the rail like a line of copper ants. Sometimes I'd place a couple with edges overlapped in hopes that the engine would crush them together as if they were made of clay. Someone told me once that "pennying" the tracks could derail a train. I never did believe them.

Today I saw that engine rolling down the tracks along route 92 as I drove home from work. It still fills me with boyhood excitement. I want to race ahead in my truck, grab the change from my cup-holder and sprint down to the rails to lay a line of coins. Feel the earth shake and strain beneath the weight of the steel snake crawling over its shoulders. Watch my coins sprinkle off the tracks like glitter.

- I'd like to take a moment to thank Ada Limón herself for posting a link back to my review of her book Sharks in the Rivers on her blog. She's a great poet and writer that more people should check out. 

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