A trip home By Katy McAllister

A trip home

The train tunnels through the snowstorm. My child,
you sit on the cracked plastic seat, kicking your heels and picking
with little fingers at a rip in your jeans. How old you are
I don’t remember. Nearly four, or maybe five.

I have not been to this village since I carried you
curled between my hips, not yet known
to the outside world. It was summer then
and your father met us at the station. Now
we ride the last train to pass through these mountains
until spring thaws them. Lights of the depot stutter
over your face as we come to a stop and you
press your face and palms
against the dark glass to see outside.

It’s night, the snow a blue sheet
on the ground, half burying houses. You leap
into the bank and snow comes nearly to your shoulders.
If I could join you and lie, half buried, frozen
forever I would. Instead I grasp your mittened hands
and pull you back onto the platform. You don’t cry,
as though the cold has frozen your breath inside your chest.
I want to tell you that is what it means to grow
older, words crystallizing in the back
of your throat, a slow collection of unspoken thoughts
like frost along the inside
of your mouth.

Christmas lights glitter in living room windows as we
trudge up the street, holding hands.
I try not to think of his family, waiting for us to arrive.
I have not seen them since his death, just before
your birth. You are too young to miss him,
to know of the accident that shattered his ribcage,
pushed broken bone into
his lungs. You are still learning
how to breathe.

By Katy McAllister

Biography:

Katy is a garden enthusiast from Michigan. She loves the chaos of working a restaurant and spends her free time drinking tea and growing cacti.

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