The Return

I hid behind a side-tracked car until there echoed clear
As a signal of the starting, two sharp whistles on my ear,
Then, with a long, laborious groan the freight got under way
And ponderous cars went hulking by like elephants at play.
I gripped an iron rung and swung aboard with flapping coat.
The engine sent a wailing dirge from its deep iron throat
And vanished in a Cut which gaped, a brown gash, new and raw;
One either side the jagged rocks, like the broken teeth of a saw
Leaped up and down with naked poles and racing strands of wire. . . .
Then, flash! the engine reached the plain as a cannon belches fire,
Wrapped in a cloud of rolling smoke. As on and on we flew
The panorama of the fields went shifting out of view.
A scared thrush shot up from a bush and sought the open sky;
A herd of cattle raised their heads and stared rebukingly;
Above a marching clump of trees a wind-mill spun its wheel,
And from a bank of toppling cloud there crashed a thunder-peal.

The sun went down, the stars came out, I crouched upon the coal
Feeling as if I had been made a lone, unbodied soul:
Chance with great hands might crumple me like any gossamer thing,
Might o'er the ramparts of the Flesh my startled spirit fling
Where a scattered silver dust of worlds stream down through endless night
As sun-motes in a darkened room dance down a shaft of light. . . .

Now, like gigantic fireflies clustered on a Malay tree,
The lamps of the division-end across the dark I see. . . .
Dim boxcars huddle everywhere…I laugh as I alight,
For, safe and sound in life and limb, I'm home again tonight!
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