One day in each October comes an hour
when suddenly, through trees gnawed by the wind,
you hear the trains again. The summer’s power
is finally finished when the leaves have thinned.
It isn’t that shrill whistles and the grind
of wheels on rails all summer went unheard,
it’s just they seldom entered in the mind.
They’re different now. They ask to have a word
with you, regardless if you would prefer
or not. They tell you nothing’s stopping them.
They own the trestles, town, and sky. You were
in charge, but now you’re twisting on a stem,
the cider press is working overtime.
In coming weeks the din can only climb.
Our elders said they once were young as we,
and we would loll our eyes and go our way
to do things not conceived of in their day
nor any prior point in history.
How new our world was, only we could see.
It hadn’t turned to stone, nor even clay,
but rolled, blue water, in a sheltered bay
attended by the Old Man of the Sea.
He took whatever shape he pleased, and laughed
at everyone but us, with dolphin trill
or seagull rasp. We named him Proteus,
which filled him with delight. I never will,
he cried, deserve that classic name. Its shaft
transfixed him. All change now was up to us.
Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and co-editor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song. Dan’s poetry has appeared previously in Grand Little Things and in Able Muse, Poetry, Rolling Stone, Think, and many other magazines. A selection of his poems titled The Mirror Test will be published by MadHat Press in February 2022.