From The Switching/Yard
Visitation at Gogama
No shirt, was drying his long hair
with a towel and staring at the train,
he looked about 30.
I saw my birth father young and alive,
he stepped out of a brown house with a white
sign on the side: wild bill (his nickname)
in big block letters. I saw him the way he was
before he made me—
beautiful and astonishing in his maleness.
I tell you this is my family tree—no
noble phrases, no graveyards on the hill,
just visitations. Now pieces of discarded track,
explosion of purple wildflowers along the side,
solid wall of rock 5 ft from the train,
then a river/bridge/floating leaves
that look like giant lily pads—is that possible?
We’re approaching the town of Gogama,
Ontario—small railroad town erased
by the diesel engine. There’s a bar called
“Restaurant/Tavern” and a meat market
called “Meat Market” and a motel called
“Motel”—no other names.
In this place of no-naming or maybe
first-naming, I decide I’ll call myself “bastard”—
it’s plain and accurate, you can count on it.
We approach a signal, a woman in a
black tank top with killer arms slouches
in a grey Buick Century at the crossing
in a modified gangster lean. I decide
I love her, call her free.
Copyright © 2013 Jan Beatty. All rights reserved.