He loves to hear the rapturous whistle blowing clearing his mind of dark despairs,
to breathe in the scented whoosh of the slowing wheels
as he stands on the platform watching the arrival of another train.
Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, Southwest Chief, each with a name.
He joins the other watchers standing there without shame
to greet the wave of an engineer or porter, sunshine or rain.
It's the pageantry.
It's the arrival and departure majesty.
It's the impromptu theater soothing a soul's troubling pain.
There are times he books a Pullman berth, its pillow he snuggles
to lose all the world's cares and struggles,
while rocking so blessedly to the clickety-clack refrain.
One such morning enthralled by seeing America's historic prairies
outside his window, he sets forth prancing through noisy unbalancing vestibules that make him even more merry!
till he reaches the car where like a king he'll reign.
Breakfast in the sun-splashed diner, pancakes and ham,
joking with the headwaiter, and being lavished with free side dishes by the cook, and smiling broadly like a suitor when a lady blushes
from a compliment he makes on her gams.
Though never too busy to sneak a look at the lunch menu where he decides he'll order later the hot meatloaf sandwich with gravy on a wheat bun of 7 "healthy" grains.
Late afternoon in the club car, a Coke by his side
he asks the guy opposite, "Enjoying the ride?"
"You bet! Beats the hassle with planes."
The stranger continues, "Going far?" he asks.
"No. Here and there. Keeping active since my wife passed."
"Ah, nobody wins the life game."
"Honey, the kids want a hamburger"-a stunning blonde stands over the guy who rises, shakes hands and says goodbye.
The train watcher feels a loss he can't explain.
But the lulling vistas of farmland and the soothing whistle blowing such pleasing keys
soon abolish all traces of unease.
He knows when arriving at his destination he'll be the first to ride back again down the all-healing railway lane.