Derailment: James River, Virginia

A poem by Allison Wilkins

November 12, 2023

A fog settles on a train station.
A peacock picks a fight with a goat.

 No one would believe this.
Those blue quills and the scruff

 of black beard all tangled in a mess,
like beveled wheels spinning too fast.

 Perhaps it’s the dream
of a content heart or ruined life.

 Or maybe we can blame the mother.
The train falls in the river.

 Crude oil is now our water. And we
are all machines, not even sure

 of the platform or cloud.
There is a limit to what one can endure.

 We’ve been in the sequence
for so long, we can’t know

how it ends. The mother,
is there, dressed in blue, a feather

 behind her ear. She is standing
on the platform. There is a river.

 Or there is just darkness, fog and spinning.
The clink of a bolt. The screech of the train.

 Goat choking on oil.