Anne Britting Oleson has been published widely on four continents. She earned her MFA at the Stonecoast program of USM. She has published two chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (2007) and The Beauty of It(2010). A third chapbook, Counting the Days, is forthcoming from Pink Girl Ink, and a novel, The Book of the Mandolin Player, is forthcoming from B Ink Publishing--both in early 2016.
Rocking chair, gentle rhythmic echo
against creaking hardwood, unforced,
dying away, no more keeping time
to a breath driven out. Silent drift
of snow against a window, hum
of old overhead lighting, distant,
dictating nightfall, urgency moving on,
leaving the sound of watchfulness.
We are the voices of the lanes
and the rough tracks,
the footpaths sign-posted and not,
where we find our way
or find ourselves lost.
We are the songs of long treks
up Winchester Hill or past chalk horses,
through nettles or bare-boled trees,
churchyards of leaning stones
with grasses left long for butterflies.
We sing of pints in Soberton,
of wooden stiles and kissing-gates,
of brick Victorian bridges
and rusty gaslight fixtures
along a long-abandoned railbed.
Our harmonies are laughter beside water:
at the source of the Meon,
along the mud banks of the Thames,
in a pub beside Noss Creek.
Our music is each other. Our music is joy.
At the crossing, barrier down,
the red eyes of warning lights
open and close to a cacophony
of jangling bells. Count the engines.
Four—a freight train going far
or pulling much. Count the cars:
flatbeds, empty, or full of uncut pulp;
boxcars, doors closed secretively
or open in defiance of the strictures
painted on their sides. Tankers
haul all manner of toxins through
the tiny veins and tiny muscular towns
of the country's circulatory system.
Cars from Minnesota or New Mexico
or Louisiana, coupling and breaking apart,
a body with no heart, but always
pumping, pushing this life through
this crossing where I wait every afternoon,
at 3:40, counting, where I imagine myself
swinging up beside the grey-faced driver
who raises his hand in a bored greeting
as he rattles over the rails.