somewhere we took a wrong turn
down a street we should have known we didn’t want to drive
through a neighborhood where they watched us warily
and pretended we didn’t speak the same language
that we’d have to learn their words
if we wanted to ask for help
and for some reason
although we spoke to them
and they spoke to us
and we all heard words
we played along
we let them tell us what words to use
to ask them to help us
to ask them not to hurt us
they told us what we were
and we knew they were wrong
but the wrongness was too big
or maybe that they were right
but wrong to take offense
and we couldn’t figure out how to say
(in their silly arbitrary pidgin formed of one language)
(in their legalese of pig latin)
yes, so what?
why would you even bring that up?
we just want to get back to the interstate
If you want to be something
be one of the People Who Wave At Trains.
and watch the tame giant
crawl by impossibly fast
and offer it a greeting
as you’d usually reserve for a friend.
You’ll be in good company:
small children on city streets,
and old ladies at their farmhouse doors,
boys on a makeshift half-pipe
behind the warehouse,
girls on horseback
where the trail dips near the tracks.
It will be gone in a moment
taking with it its cargo
of travelers behind their windows,
or goods packed up in containers
and boxcars as lavishly painted
as the inside of any gallery.
The train will go,
along its route that you might never see
although you can trace the oft-crosssed line
across a map.
The train will go:
will you have waved?