By Matt Morton
Featured Art: Time Transfixed by René Magritte
It will be raining. You will be watching
TV when your son walks
into the room. He will be crying
and holding the stuffed gazelle you bought.
What’s that noise? he will ask,
sounding scared. On the screen,
an armadillo singing show tunes. To humor him,
you’ll pretend to listen:
Outside, down the street, coming closer,
a sound like a train. It’s just a train
you’ll shrug. Here, look at this armadillo.
A flashing red banner scrolling from right
to left across the screen. Such tiny print.
You will squint. Undoubtedly,
you’ll have left your glasses in the other room
with your credit cards and shoes. Turning
your attention back to the show,
you will gather up your son. Front door
rattling against the jamb. All of the windows
black. But you said there aren’t any trains.
He won’t stop sobbing. You said they—
Hush you will say, annoyed
at missing your show. Where is your wife?
By now, the sound has become a roar.The gazelle
lying on the carpet, your son’s mouth
stuck open like a doll’s. When the portraits drop
to the floor and break, you will shake
your head: He is so small for his age, the world
will be hard on him. T-R-A-I-N
you’ll mouth, as if he’s deaf, when the windows
start to blow out. You’ll be shouting
It’ll pass, it’s just a train
as the roof is ripped from the house.
Matt Morton is the author of Improvisation Without Accompaniment, winner of the BOA Editions A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Program, and his poetry appears in Agni, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and a PhD from the University of North Texas.
Originally published in NOR 15