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The Train Ride with Billy Collins
by Erika Ayón

He comes in with a small carry-on,
sits next to me, starts a conversation
about Obama, about the French guy
who was just arrested in New York City,
about the weather. I want to talk about
the immense fields that replace skylines,
serve as oceans. About the nostalgic
feeling these fields inspire in me.
How I want to get off, embrace a tree,
unearth some roots. How the scent
of open land makes me cry
like it's the scent of a lover.
I wonder if he feels the same way too.
If Billy feels that these trees are also
like poems. That those vibrant red
strawberries are planted poems.
That there are also those poems
which never rise to the sun, but stay
hidden, deep in the soil, a secret
in the darkness. Poetry is like that
for me, poetry is everything.
It is a train ride going nowhere,
shouting names of forgotten towns.
I want Billy to close his eyes,
to not describe the obvious,
the ordinary. For us to talk about how
Fresno is like the ghost of this valley.
For him to follow me into the dining
car, share a cup of tea,
lose ourselves in this world
of land and no water.


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