30th Street Station
Here on the west bank of the Schuylkill
Shaw’s eight stories of steel rise above train
tracks and Bridgewater. Encased cathedral
windows in travertine walls catwalk across
porticos of classical columns, sun streams in.
Hancock’s archangel rises from Tennessee
marble, a soldier in arms, looks to coffered
ceiling, rests between art deco chandeliers.
Gilded ornamented columns glisten above
dark wooden benches where signs of blue
lead to tracks of steel as the destination board
clicks and clacks on trains arrival.
In the north hall, aged brass images of Atterbury
Gibbs and Thomson keep eye on commuters
rushing to and fro. Embedded on the west wall
Bitter’s century old Spirit sings out in the grunts
of oxen, horses, of ornate carriages, pioneers
weary mother of children, the youngest carrying
an airship into the future.
On the concourse they open and close books
newspapers, tap on keyboards, whisper sweet
nothings into lovers ear, make business deals
greet family, travel in all directions in this last
great temple of what were once the railroad gods.
I walk through the early morning mist
jacket begins to soak with each step
In this walk I see things I would have
never noticed otherwise. A fresh look
at the everyday, of the spectral, of the
kaleidoscopic. I have become a walking
man, not like Reznikoff who walked miles
through the caverns of New York City.
I walk the small community I live in
three miles along the edges and down the
main arteries. I breathe in the cold air
take in all the sights of this neighborhood
in my adopted city. I walk.
Meditation along a Creek
As on most days I walk the banks of the creek
caught up in thought as I watch the rapids by
the sandy beach. It is times like these I think
of you and the heartbreak I carry of your passing
four decades ago. On this creek in the city I live
my thoughts drift to another place along Mill Creek
in the neighborhood of my youth. It was here we
climbed trees, constructed rock bridges caught
minnows and craw daddies, swung on ropes and
dreamed. We ran the park in the hollow, played
ball in the fields of the orchard; became teenagers
when we weren’t looking. And in these new times
unbridled hope leaked from our pores your
suffering began and no matter the diagnosis you
held out faith and gave us the strength to travel
the path with you. When things got bad, I always
thought of you and through you believed there was
nothing we couldn’t do. At 19 you were taken from
us, there was no cure and with your departure our
hopes and dreams departed. It was never the same
along Mill Creek as everything splintered; I left.
So here in another town I watch the rapids in another
creek as your sweet smile and peaceful aura come into
focus yet again and all these years later I miss you my
friend, look at the rapids through watery eyes, pat
my chest and know I carry memories of you that will
stay with me all of my life.
I hear the announcement of morning’s arrival
diesel engine revving and revving as if a struggle
to stay alive. Birds go quiet in the trees as alarms
pierce the air; echo off the buildings. Arms unbend
steel forks slap the ground, alarms go quiet as the
forks pierce the channels in the box Glanz invented.
Constant revving and revving as the arms lift the box
over the man in the cab and then the bang and clang
bang and clang of items falling into the steel bed of
the truck, revving and revving as the packer blade
compresses along bronze shoes. The bang of the box
booms as it is dropped back into place. A brief moment
of quiet. Alarms sound again, revving and revving as
as the engine struggles once again in reverse.
The large red truck navigates its way through the small
parking lot, revving and revving, lurches onto the street.
Birds in trees sing once again, sound of leaves kissed
by wind fills the air as does the patter of rain against
On the dark lonely hill covered with snow
pieces of granite, marble, cement line up
as if dominos ready to fall. All that remains
of the church that was once here is a hole
in the ground and unlike the other holes
that have been filled, this one remains empty
except for watery mud and the skeleton of
an Oak tree in the center. I am sure if you
could find an old timer here on the hill they
could tell you the name of the church, even
the name of what might have been a town.
There isn’t anyone within miles of this place.
As the loose snow is wiped from the stones
I find some mayors, councilmen, reverends
wives and husbands, children gone too soon
and many stones whose names have faded
into time as have those who occupy the hole
beneath. Some stones barely poke through
the ground, others are tilting and yet others
lay flat sinking into the earth. There was a
time when all these people mattered but for
now and forever they rest forgotten on a
dark lonely hill covered with snow.
g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He has been published widely in the small and electronic press. Fifteen collections of his fiction and poetry have been published. He is a contributing editor at North of Oxford and published The Fox Chase Review. He can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/