Reading the Train Book, I Think of Lisa

Maggie Smith

In the board book there is a train, not a train
but a picture of a train on thick cardboard pages
my son fumbles to turn. In the book with a spine
gummed soft, there is no car parked beside the tracks
and no black-haired woman standing by the car
not parked beside the tracks. In the book
there is a train, each car its own color, one car
heaped high with coal, not coal but a drawing of coal.
See the engine, the neat cloud of steam above it,
not steam at all, and the engineer in his striped cap
smiling in the little window, not a window.
In the book there is no black-haired woman
on the tracks, not tracks. I am holding my son
who is holding the train book and waiting
for me to sing the long, happy sound, not happy
but a warning, doubled and doubled again.

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