Darjeeling Railway
by Judy Clarence

We wait for the puffing “toy
train” to join our full cars.
Multilingual conversations in the still,
cold air below the mountain heaped with snow.
Faint coal smell. Hiss of steam. As always,
India, on the brink of war
with Pakistan. The hiss is like the hiss
of frightened snakes. As always, Pakistan
on the brink of war with India, only
miles from here. Miles above the clear
blue sky, the coal smoke, the black
cap my seatmate leaves behind,
as always, to hold his place.


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