Benjamin Gantcher


Slid up the rails, the train
zips the seam
between the cheeping waves and shaggy river frontage
where a giant shed stands in the rushes,
its roof a field of winter light.
The brute engine’s gouging out a slot
and loops of wind, and in reply
the pigeons bank at the eaves
and twenty shadows like flakes
peel off the veering flock
and bump against the corrugated white,
stretch to blades that clatter off the edge
when the birds clap up…

* * *

The wind
would rough the locusts
on the banks, turning out their silver,
and shake down hickories on the slope,
the brooms of them catching the dust
the sun threw in from exile.
Spears that leant back to the ground
would form little bowers, pockets of gloom
like afflicted towns across the lawn, linking up
a league of shadow settlements.
Everything suggesting something else,
and the cool grass feeling like dampness
but us staying there, persistent, at the still center
of all-scale endless collaborating action
that makes the pure quiet
until (as reward
after straining at translation)
resemblances lift as noise in a crowd
can lift in your head
and let you hear a conversation.
You would know it as it happened,
watching me.

* * *

Nested in my coat
on the vinyl pew
like some imprinting
incunabulum, a bare camera panning

ditches at a clip,
sifting factory heaps
and turbine housing,
my looking slows the train

when the company of pigeons
inscribes itself
with a spatter
on a blank page

and I am lifted in my seat,
split off and rewound
I mouth the commotion
of glide and plummet.

The whole scene is signature.
But as if
you’re riding another train
you’re reading another book;

lost stone walls in spare
wood print the overleaf.
Faint autograph on unnumbered
onionskin sheets.