I stand on the overpass above Delawanna Ave. This is the NJ Transit Delawanna Station. You won't find Delawanna on a map, it's an anonymous suburban neighborhood of a middle-class suburban municipality, the southernmost tip of an anonymous suburban county, basking in the shadowy aura of the Emerald City of Manhattan, and this line is a forgotten spur of the Yellow Brick Road. I squeeze off two snapshots of the signs: to the left, "Port Jervis", and I don't know where that is; to the right, "Hoboken". That's Manhattan-ward, direction enough for me. When I was 7, I lived in the corner house two blocks away by taxicab geometry, but since the tracks were verboten, and we never had cause to take a train, this spot is new to me today. Clear golden afternoon sun bathes rusty rouge-y cinder, rotting ties, trash that will blow away before anyone picks it up. This guy with one eye stands by the plexiglass shelter - it's a stop, not what I would consider a "real" station. He says he comes here for the quiet. What line runs through here? Oh, there won't be a train through here today, not on a Sunday. He's drinking a can of beer, the skin of his thirtysomething face tells a murky and verbose tale of alcohol, but for this moment he is lucid enough to say a little about trains and quiet and Petey's Woods that were half a mile down the tracks (in the Port Jervis direction) before they built the condos there... There, but for the grace of God, go I. I'm not sure which eye to look at - the open one, blue-gray and lively, or the one he keeps closed, like a Moorcock hero between doom-laden adventures. I compromise and address the bridge of his nose. That welcome early spring sunshine casts interesting shadows from fences and stone stairs and railings. This is what I am here for, I bid my friend a good day and stride two ties at a time, on down the line, taking pictures as I go.
Click. Rotted ties fade into dirt and cinder on an abandoned spur.
Click. Givaudan-Roure office building presides over the toxic waste site.
Click. A row of forsythia blooms like fountains of sparks.
Click. Steel rails disappear into the distance, leaving a study in perspective in their passing.
Click. One crazy old telephone pole leans out of line in its eternal march beside the tracks.
Click. Click. Click.
I offer a silent prayer of thanksgiving for new eyes today, for a vision uncorrupted by the dull contempt of familiarity.