Night Train

By Emily Tuszynska

Featured art: Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901)

The interior landscape shifts, erodes.
          While the children sleep we shore it up
                    with flotsam but the next day another

tide-bitten chunk of coastline
          crumbles. The trouble is we’re living
                    all at once. We keep rearranging the furniture

to try to make it fit. By day we push
          aside the clutter, lay the baby
                    on the floor she drums with open palms

as if to feel it’s there. Something solid
          underneath. Mostly everything sways.
                    A tree falls and the house next door

stands empty for years. The boy holds his sister
          to the window and shows her how
                    to wave goodbye, and that’s the morning,

fingerprints in the dust of it. Outside the day
          moves away in all directions. Streetlights
                    come on. When as I walk the baby the night train  

whistles through its distant crossing,
          why does it feel like we are the ones
                    hurtling toward some unknown destination?

I lean my forehead against the icy, rattling glass,
          look through our reflection at the moon
                    rushing through branches. Look, there’s a farmhouse,

miles from the lights of any town. Someone
          turns on a lamp in one of the windows;
                    someone stands there, watching us go past.


Emily Tuszynska lives in Virginia, where she teaches at George Mason University and raises three children. Some of her recent poems can be found in Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, and Water~Stone Review.

Originally published in NOR 28

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