Mary Barnard

(December 6, 1909 – August 25, 2001 / Vancouver, Washington)

Encounter in Buffalo

The country lies flat, expressionless as the face of a stranger.
Not one hillock shelters a buried bone. The city:
a scene thin as a theater backdrop, where no doors open,
no streets extend beyond the view from the corner.

Only the railroad embankment is high, shaggy with grass.
Only the freight, knuckling a red sun under its wheels,
drags familiar box-car shapes down long perspectives
of childhood meals and all crossings at sunset.

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