Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Iconographer’s Junction

by Todd Mercer        

The idiot boy, now a man,
mans the railway station bench
in vigilance. He’s fed up. He filled
a pillowcase with keepsakes
to take on the train which stopped
stopping eons back, the tracks themselves
pulled up for scrap in the Seventies.

The odds against the nine-fifteen express
pulling in to the depot
are astronomical but not
wholly impossible. This is the son
of one who monologues her particular
despairs to angels, and to her friend
the Virgin Mary icon on the
living-room’s door-facing wall.

Mary made it bearable, the burden,
raising such a sedentary runaway, on lucid prayer
and stories of the trains that used to pass. The mother
keeps immaculate, in case of The Rapture, saving
herself for a linked string of life events
that haven’t run this country route,

yet. There’s her aging boy-child
out on the departure platform,
choosing belief over facts, hearing
a steam whistle shrieking. Mother says,
“Tea kettle.” Mary
pours the boiling water
over leaves.

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