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Night Train to Zagreb

George Ellenbogen
From:   The Rhino Gate Poems. Véhicule Press, 1996


When gusts spread against the glass
on the Orient Express to Zagreb
snow separates in alphabet,
the vowels clinging to glass,
consonants slipping into drifts.

It must be this way for the howl
to flatten a summons against the pane,
the moaning against the arms
of night pushing it beneath
unbroken meters of the train.

Inside one hand reaches for coffee,
the other sleeve reaches the table
armless, turning in circles
like a pendulum raising questions
as the train turns through the foothills.

It was a Serb. Or was it a Croat?
who came out of a night like this
with candlesticks, something in a bag
and she was there, something
between the doorway and road

or was it the bedroom and kitchen?
And he lowered to her as if
to leave something behind, a kiss
or something more memorable—we
always misunderstand—and her arm

was in the snow, possibly on a night
like this with less to understand
than ice caking on glass
over a broken toothed moan
in alphabet that never shapes.



George Ellenbogen's works copyright © to the author.


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