There are tracks
that snake through the verdant
hills of Vermont
, carrying the steel beasts of burden
that they always have. The Amtrak Vermonter
, the Burlington & Northern
, and their ilk
; always announcing their presence to the smaller world outside with Doppler
ed roar of power and the loneliness of the Lion.
Walking along the ribbons of the steelroad, in the Vermont woods, at night. Dark, so dark the atmosphere is an opaque gas and you can feel it rushing over across and swirling about you in whorls of photophilic mufflers. The slight phosphorescence of fungus on the trees, of what small starlight filters through the treetops to flicker (time and again) on the shiny tops of the rails.
First: a whispering, sussuration, tickling reminder. High frequencies dancing in the dark. The feeling (not sound) of torque and stress, the forces acting on the steel jumping across the darkened interstitial space as some flex lightning to creak and gently push our bodies.
Second: faintest smear of brilliant light ahead off faraway and over the hill; a moving wizard's light of flickering shadows and occasional ray bursting up into the night sky.
Third: whispers becoming moans and quiet muffled shrieks; the stereo of the rails making one (almost) want to lay there down on the trackbed and listen to the varicolored slow and lethal speech of steel to steel.
Final: reluctantly moving aside to see the closing lantern slide around the mountain's face, scything down across us in the hellish glare of an angry storm as the locomotive approaches with a ringing bell (-click-DANG-click-DANG-click-DANG-click-DANG) to indicate that perhaps the engineer has seen us walking quietly down the cut besides the rails. The earth moves to the train, but it's hard to feel that when the rhythm of the Diesels is causing the very air to thump its way through your body so that you can feel the train in your lungs, huge and metal and loud and hot and THERE and gone, off, into the night where we had walked to find it for itself, and all that's left
the rhythmic murmuring marching cadence of the cars that followed it sleepily into the night
trucks sounding off the rail joins in steel drum harmony.