It was early May and Sarah and I slept on top of a sleeping bag, the boxcar open to the bright black sky. The nights were still cold in the Northeast, and the freight train lurched and shook while we sat in silence against its wall. I climbed the side of the car to look out to the dark hills and then into a forest. From what I could tell we were deep into the countryside; I could see no lights from anything but the moon. I imagined the silence out beyond the boxcar, the engulfing noise of the freight train was like someone crying alone. The cold ached in my ears.
When I climbed back down Sarah put her forehead to her knees. She was wearing a wool hat with her hood pulled over it. We weren’t sure where the train would stop, and we had been riding in the boxcar for hours. I sat with my arms wrapped around my knees and watched the stacks of metal bars at the other end of the car shimmering.
We had been square dancing at a farm our friend John knew about in Northwest Virginia. I was dancing with him, he was tall enough to lift me off the ground while he spun me. Sarah was calling the dance, a surprising strength and directness in her soft voice as she told the fifty or so dancers what to do. The pairs were circling, trying to follow directions and falling out of sequence laughing, trying to push each other in the right direction. People don’t really do these kinds of things on the west coast, at least, not that I had seen growing up. The south had an intimacy about it that the west coast had somehow let slip away. It has to do with the fear of being impolite, of offending people, of appearing one way or another. In square dancing, there isn’t time to apologize and there isn’t time to be offended. Suddenly you are in the arms of a strange man, and he is spinning you. You are smaller than you remember and laughing into his ear. Your hand is over his, and then you feel the power of spinning, of holding to each other while the motion tries to pull you apart. There’s no time to think; he twists you around and you fall into someone else, meet their eyes in sloppy chivalry.
We had met a guy from the old-time band that was playing the dance. He played the violin violently, like he was desperate for something to suddenly rise out of it. The bow had stray hairs hanging from it that flailed while he played. His baseball cap was a sooty color, the grease from freight trains set deep into the fabric. When the dance ended John and I fell onto the benches, our hair wet around the temples. Sarah came over and sat beside us and we patted her shoulders breathlessly. I watched the violinist sit down and start drinking from a mason jar, watched until he came over and handed it to me, saying nothing, just smiling. There were a couple blood orange slices swelled and dull in the clear liquid. “Moonshine,” he said and touched my back. He had a striking, deep tan, and it was hard to tell if his skin was covered in a fine layer of dirt or not. I took a long sip without breathing through my nose; it felt like oil in my mouth. He continued to hit on me a little, smiling and scratching his rough cheek and asked us to come down and jump into the pond with him. John stayed behind.
We walked down the long grass path, hearing someone else start to play the violin. The noise was contained to the barn, we could hear shoes stomping the wooden floor and the band rolling into a chorus, we could hear little yips and whistles, but it was on a planet we were leaving. I could hear a strange, almost mechanical sound coming from the water, round and metallic thuds. It was happening from all different areas of the pond, all at different volumes. “Frogs,” Matt said, already taking off his shirt.
“I’ve never heard frogs sound like that,” I said, looking at Matt’s back. He was covered in shaky tattoos, as if the person that gave them was unsure. We followed him out onto the rickety wooden dock, stepping over the missing planks. The pond was small and ringed with tall, thick blades of grass. Matt sat down and started untying his boots. Sarah looked at me, and I could barely see her face in the dark. I hadn’t seen her in almost a year, hadn’t traveled with her for three. When we were together, things happened that I don’t think would happen if we were apart, or at least, they wouldn’t have the same vibrancy. I could hear the band in the distance, like trying to remember something from very long ago. Matt unbuttoned his jeans, pulled them off and stood naked with his hands on his hips. I could only see the outline of his body, barely make out the curve of his dick. He ran three steps and dove, turning in the air and entering the water smoothly. Sarah and I took off our clothes quickly, and we piled them top of our shoes. I ran first and jumped in, the sound of breaking water like a low cymbal hit into quiet. It was pleasantly cool. I stayed under for a few seconds, pulling myself through the water and feeling the soft plants brush my stomach. When I stood it was in deep, silky mud, and Sarah was already ahead of me, swimming out to the center. I watched her roll easily onto her back and lie there like it was a field or a bed. Matt was walking through water up to his neck, the slow walk I can imagine the dead making.
We were all silent, all at different parts of the pond. The frogs, who had been struck quiet by the first splash, started up again. Looking up at the sky, I could see the stars and the thin sickle moon. I wondered what Sarah was thinking about, lying impossibly still on the surface of the water. She had a deep sadness; I could feel it even across the pond. I think people with that sadness know about a truer kind of love. They have already experienced it, are always aching after it, have known it in their bodies the way a woman knows the infant growing inside of her. But this love doesn’t belong to anyone, no one makes it. People open like a well, and it collects there. When you make the decision to let that love in, to seek that love, you will have a glowing ache constantly. People that made that decision, those were the ones I felt were brave. Sarah was brave, she felt the world everyday like a pure gold cut.
Our silence was interrupted by hollering and the thuds of bare feet running down the grass path. Four more people, three girls and a guy, slowed down as they approached the dock and called out to us. Matt yelled back, “get in here boys!” and they threw off their clothes and broke the water.
The next night, Sarah taught us harmonies to an old folk song called Bright Morning Stars. We were sitting in a small circle on the barn’s wooden floor; it was the last night, and the dance hadn’t started yet. John and I tried to match the haunting clarity of her voice. It was without any waver, a sound so precise it made my body go cold. I missed a few notes, strained my voice, almost felt like I was throwing it at the ceiling. John’s cracked to make the notes and eventually did. I watched him singing with his eyes closed. He was almost thirty but he could have been a teenager, except around the eyes where his wrinkles rayed like lines from a child’s sun. His blonde hair was almost to his shoulders, carved back by his left hand continuously running through it. There were a few moments when our voices achieved a perfect harmony, and it felt like it was healing something in me I didn’t know was wounded. We were leaving the next morning. We had convinced John to stay with us for another night and drive north toward Maine. We danced again that night, and I made popcorn with Matt over the house’s stove, an entire cardboard box of it for everyone there. We left him in the morning, and he smiled boyishly. He looked at Sarah and me with a flicker of pain.
While we headed north, we kept working on our harmonies. I practiced when I was alone because it was easier. When I sang with the others, I had to concentrate deeply on not letting my voice bend to their melody. We stopped at a corner store, because John wanted an ice cream sandwich. He was in a boyish mood, picking on me like a brother and bouncing around, full of energy. He had made the choice to call in sick for the next day, and he was giddy with the joy of just going with us. He was wearing his glasses, they were so thick they made his eyes look smaller than they were, and he was wearing pants that were too short at the ankles. He chased me around the gravel parking lot, kicking up dust. He was prone to extreme moods and, in many ways, still resembled a boy. He could be short-tempered, but when he was sweet, it was the kind of sweetness that almost everyone outgrows. He’d cut his head to the side and slant it down, look up into your eyes. Even though he was so tall, he somehow managed to look up at you, and he’d smile so shyly it would make you feel young too. After John bought his ice cream sandwich and bought himself a six pack of beer, I watched him peel the wrapper open and take big bites from it, the field behind him dry and golden, meeting the light blue sky.
Passing through the outskirts of a small town, we saw a wooden sign that said cemetery. Beside the road was a run-down barn and a large brown steer eating grass, chickens running around at his feet. Out of curiosity we followed the arrow up an old paved road that wound around a small hill. The bank was overgrown with pink and yellow wildflowers falling over themselves, almost out to the jagged edge of the cement. When we reached the top, John stopped the car, and we got out. I walked over to the chain link fence, slid my fingers into the diamonds. It went up to my stomach, light gray and kind in appearance. I put one toe of my shoe into it and pushed myself over with my arms. Sarah pulled up on a silver horse-shoe lock and walked in.
We split off to different parts of the cemetery. It was a square and small, with grass that was only slightly overgrown, like a military haircut after a couple months. It was a bright day, and the sun whitewashed the grass. An oak tree spread out in the center and the graves were modest, some just flat slabs with a last name. There were plastic flowers in plastic pots that were wrapped in bright foil. There was a small teddy bear left at a child’s grave, its fur matted and hardened from the rain, a red ribbon around its neck. I walked slowly around, reading the names and looking at the things people had left. Little windmills were stuck in the dirt, turning slowly in the breeze. There was even a letter in an envelope, wrinkled with blue ink running down the front. I watched Sarah walking slowly across the yard, her deep tanned shoulders slightly bent forward, as if pulling up against a heaviness. Her light brown hair was blonde in the sun, and I could sense her sadness again. It radiated. She looked up at that moment, looked me in the eyes and it struck into my heart.
John broke the silence and told us to come over. He wanted us to sing with him, so we sat under the oak tree in what I imagine was the very heart of America, surrounded by little windmills and a letter with ink running down it, the green grass dulled by the sun, the oak bending softly around itself. Sarah started singing, that perfect white sound, and then John wavering over the notes like someone balancing on a curb after being kissed by the person they have always loved. I started in next, the sound held in my chest warmly and then pouring out. I dreamed that it would pour out of my mouth one day like wildflowers pouring down a hill. I watched John again, watched him struggling sweetly with the notes, his own sadness cracking itself through the song, and Sarah’s clean sadness, and mine, shy and hopeful, not quite enough strength to hit the highest note. Oh where are our dear mothers? Day is a-breaking in my soul.
John left us the next day in Pennsylvania, right near the on-ramp. I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. He didn’t want to go back home. I didn’t know when I’d see him again. When he noticed me crying a little, he cut his head to the side and made a sound, looked up at me. Sarah and I would be hitchhiking and hopping trains the rest of the way to Maine. It was that quick goodbye I was so used to, arms around a neck, a look into the eyes, and then, an absence. I watched him drive away, making an arc across two lanes. We walked over to a dumpster, pulled out a piece of cardboard, and wrote NORTH across it in black.
We got our first ride with an off-duty cop that worked busting men for distributing child porn. He was shocked to see us there and said he wanted to get us a little up the road, even though he wasn’t going that way. We told him we were fine, that’d we’d find someone else. He insisted, and became suddenly very kind, even asked us if we had any drugs to just throw them out first. We didn’t.
It was obvious that his job had changed so much about him, even the way he held his own body, the way he knew himself. His wife wanted him to quit, said they would make it work. She was tired of him coming home in the middle of the night, waking up sweating in the morning from terrible dreams. His hair was cut close to his head, barely going gray and the start of a beard was rough on his cheeks. He had two deep lines on either side of his mouth. While he told us about his wife he rubbed the back of his neck, looked even more tired than before. When she married him he was an officer out on the street, it’s what he had trained to be. But a job opened up and the pay was so much better. His wife was pregnant, “so what do ya do?” Every night he had to sit in an office with his partner, watching video after monstrous video, wading through computer files and cell phone files until his vision blurred. He held the steering wheel gently, looked over at us as often as he could while he talked. He told us about having two young daughters, and told us he picked us up so someone dangerous wouldn’t have the chance, that he could only see his daughters when he looked at us. He bought us bottles of water at the gas station where he dropped us off, and I fell forward and hugged him around the neck. He hesitated for a moment, went into some motion he was trained into, and then put his hands on the back of my head.
We got several more rides up into New York, spent the night in a train yard. We had walked ten miles out of Schenectady to find it, walked on a blank, dark highway beside a forest, my shoulder blades aching against my pack. We needed to get to the yard without being seen, so we pulled ourselves through a jungle-like tangle of woods. Rain was beginning to mist down, and I was starting to get nervous. I had never hopped a train before this; Sarah had been all across the country on them. We had heard one rumble in but didn’t know when it would leave. I kept catching my feet on low branches and vines, stepped accidentally into a marsh with water that went up to my shins. I was upset, having not slept well the night before, cold and stuck in the trees. I started swearing and kicking at the vines, pulling my shoulders violently through the branches. Sarah was calm, moving intentionally through the tangle, slowly, almost elegantly. Her shoulders tensed when I would say fuck god damn it. When we got to the yard we both sat down in the brush, wet and breathing heavily, both almost crying.
The train was settling, making airy sounds and low rumblings. Sarah had switched on a different part of herself, and she told me to wait while she surveyed the yard, looking for the rail cops and workers. I watched her climb out of our hiding place and crouch low, sneak around the side of a boxcar. She looked like a different person.
I was so cold. It started to rain harder. My feet were soaking wet and my clothes were starting to soak through. There wasn’t really anything to be done. The town was ten miles back, and it was almost two in the morning; we would be sleeping there or getting on a train. I leaned back on my pack and closed my eyes, visualized the sun hitting my skin. My knees were shaking and knocking together, when I heard Sarah slowly crunching through the brush back to me.
“I don’t think it’s leaving tonight,” she said, and I wondered how she knew that.
“Do you think we’re okay here?”
“I don’t know, I don’t think we should set up the tent, they’ll see it.” She started to unroll her sleeping bag, and I took out mine, unzipped one and put it on the brush, and she unzipped the other. We lied down and put the other on top of us, the tent unrolled on top of that to keep us dry. My body settled in between the two large sticks I could feel under the sleeping bag. Sarah was shivering beside me, but the warmth of two bodies started to spread into us. The water that was soaked into my socks started to warm. I put my forehead to her chest and started laughing. She started laughing too and we tried to sleep. I was strangely happy all of a sudden, almost dumb. I was struck by a feeling I couldn’t quite understand. Being near her, touching my knees to hers, the smell of her unwashed hair. Outside us, the rain started pounding down. We kept laughing, our voices shaking, the rain hitting the tent fabric even harder.
At dawn we walked up the tracks until we found a road. I stuck my thumb out to the first car, and he stopped. He was a young guy drinking coffee out of an enormous mug shaped like a volcano. There was music playing, strange techno with the voice of a little girl. He said it was his band, and what did we think? He offered to buy us breakfast, and we declined as nicely as we could, the sleepless nights creating a funny kind of delirium.
We got more rides that day, up through New York and east into Vermont. One was with an Iraq veteran named Tom who was coming back from the funeral of his pastor. He had a southern accent so thick we could barely understand him. He said his parents had died when he was a teenager, and the pastor had been a father to him. He said two thousand people came, came from as far away as California. I felt like I could feel whatever he was feeling, a radiation like I could feel from Sarah. It was a feeling I would call elated sadness, mixed with some good kind of pride. I knew he had picked us up because he wanted to make his pastor proud, or for an even simpler reason, one maybe he didn’t even think about consciously. He was probably John’s age, maybe a couple years older, but his face held itself with a tired strength. I looked at his hands on the steering wheel, his thumbnail scratching at the leather. He told us how he got sober a few years ago, found God and that was it. He said he found peace. The kind of peace, he said, “that all people dream ‘bout havin.’” He said his pastor had told him he was forgiven, that we were all forgiven the second we ask for help from God. His voice started to waver a little. “He saved my life more times than I care ta count” he said.
“He’s in a better place,” I found myself saying, which was strange.
“Yes ma’am, yes he is, in heaven. I’ll be seeing him again. You can bet on that”
After he dropped us off we waited at an on ramp for a while, singing harmonies. Sarah told me I needed to trust myself to hit the notes, that she sensed a holding back. I kicked an old cardboard sign into the ditch. I listened to Sarah sing Oh how can I be lonely? my god is ever near me. His wondrous love surrounds me, day is a-breaking in my soul. A man pulled over and picked us up, a quiet Hispanic man who smiled and nodded at everything we asked him but didn’t answer.
A few hours later we had been dropped off and had to cross a huge bridge over the water. No one was stopping for us and after almost two hours we just started out, hiked our bags high onto our shoulders and passed the construction crew that stared dumbly. There was barely a sidewalk at all, and the cars barreled by, almost knocking us off balance. The sun was high, and we were tired and frustrated, having not slept much for two nights. After we had walked about a mile I started sticking my thumb out, and a truck pulled over onto the shoulder. We threw our bags in the truck bed, and I got in first, slid over right next to the driver and then Sarah beside me.
He was a small man, maybe in his late fifties, with the tan of a life spent working outside. Sitting that close to a strange man is nerve-wracking. I had had some twinge of a reservation when I saw him, but as he started talking I calmed down. I watched his face while he spoke. He worked installing cable underground; he said he installed miles of cable under country roads and sometimes under cities. His son worked for him and lived with him too, in a small house just across the bridge. When I asked about his wife he said she had died twelve years before from cancer. His voice softened when he told us about her, and he started talking out of the side if his mouth. Sometimes when men like this talk about difficult things they take on a certain tone, dismissive, boyish, almost as if it were just a shame. He moved his mouth around and nodded his head as if to confirm it. I looked at his hand on the steering wheel; it was rough, and his fingers were thick. The nails were ringed in a black grease and bitten. His forearm was strong and covered in little scars, straight lines that went in different directions and some thick burns gone to a pinkish-white. Out the window the green Vermont hills looked surreal, fading majestically into blue. We were quiet for a few minutes, Sarah looking tense and staring straight forward. She hadn’t said a word; I didn’t know what was wrong with her. Sometimes she just got this way, looked as if she had had enough of everything. The three of us sat looking straightforward while the truck rumbled over the end of the bridge and onto the highway. He pulled over and said, “Here you go.”
Sarah hopped out of the truck quickly, mumbled, thanks and went around the back to get our bags. I slid over and started to say something when I saw his hand holding his dick through his jeans. I could see the shape of it in his hand, hard and down one side of his pants. “Hey honey if you take care of this for me, I’ll take you the rest of the way,” he said, looking down.
“Um, no, I’m sorry, I won’t do that,”
“Not even with your hand?”
“Well, okay darlin’, you be safe,” and I closed the door. Sarah was already on the sidewalk with our bags sitting beside her. I told her what happened as his truck pulled out and down the road. She told me that she had seen him rubbing his crotch and knew I didn’t see. She was angry. She said she wanted to ask him what his wife would think, what his son with would think. We slung out backpacks on and started walking down the road, Sarah a few feet ahead.
I watched my feet while I walked. Around us was the same highway that is everywhere in America. Motel 6, Applebee’s, Shell station, Starbucks, crowding the road like people trying to see something important. I felt I had been on this highway a hundred times, had ordered coffee at that McDonalds at some six o’clock in the morning after spending the night in the woods. I felt like I could remember the Hispanic woman I bought it from, see a single perfect curl of her hair and the bright red nails on her fingers. She looked at me and the bag on my shoulders and said “where is your mother?” But she said it was a twinge of excitement that was only visible in her eyes.
I thought about the man. I wasn’t angry but the feminist in me thought I should be. He had tried to take advantage of a woman small and seemingly in need. It wasn’t the first time I had been propositioned while hitchhiking, but something about this was different. There was no easy way to explain it, but when he said okay, darling,’ the tone of his voice changed. It was as if the words were coming from a different person, a person he didn’t know he still was. It was if the words were drawn up from a well. They were deeper words, they came from some part of him he had not spoken from in a long time. I think the tenderness surprised even him. I couldn’t see him as only a pervert. He was an aging man with a dead wife and a truck, his son somewhere probably smoking weed and missing his mother. I tried to be angry, tried it on like shirt. I screwed up my face into anger. I only felt a deep sadness, a longing for some way to heal all this loneliness. Because isn’t it a loneliness? All the cigarettes and the terrible food and the sex? When I looked in his eyes I didn’t see someone possessed. I saw a softness impossible to describe. I saw sadness and shame, and when he called me darlin’, when he asked me to be safe, I saw a loneliness, a separation, a crack down the center of the earth. On one side he was there, his hand on his crotch, and I was there, slamming a door. On the other side I saw myself touching his hand on the steering wheel with the very tips of my fingers, telling him I believed he was good.
We got a few more rides, mostly in silence. Sarah was thinking about something deeply, walking a little ahead or behind. I felt guilty for not being angrier. I wanted to tell Sarah something that would help, but I knew whatever hurt she had was beyond time, was even beyond her own understanding. I wanted to tell her that the man hadn’t meant it, that I felt he was just lonely, but even in my head it sounded like bullshit. At that moment I couldn’t tell what part of myself to trust. I thought that maybe I had been an old man in my last life, if I had had other lives, that I had been lonely in that particular way. I felt maybe I had done something reprehensible, and someone had forgiven me. She hadn’t heard his voice, she hadn’t heard what I’d heard in it. But what had I heard?
We stopped in a little town in Vermont that Matt had mentioned, said the trains went out north from there every night. Sarah went right up to a train worker who was reading a newspaper in his truck and asked when it was leaving. Without looking over he said “Train leaves at eleven.” She tried to ask another questions and he said again, with more force, “Train leaves at eleven.” We didn’t press our luck. It was only six so we found a bar and went in to have a drink, barely speaking. The man in the truck had thrown something off for us, even with each other.
We sat at the bar drinking beers in silence. A band played in the corner, some kind of strange modern jazz, the cymbal ticking quickly. Sarah stared forward. Beside me a white-haired man, maybe in his early fifties, was bent over his beer and watching the band with his head turned on his palm. Sarah had a book out on the table, a book of poems called The Great Unknowing. When he turned back to his beer I could see him looking at the book. Finally, he said “Is that about The Cloud of Unknowing?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t know what that is.” He said it was a mystic Christian text from the middle ages. He had a Boston accent and spoke with an almost constant little smile. He looked like he could have been in a detective movie with his crisp collared shirt and slacks, his white hair and deep blue eyes. We started talking about mysticism, something I knew a little bit about. At this point, Sarah moved her body toward both of us and started listening, eventually talking to him too. He was delighted by the things we said, kept putting his hand on his knee and turning more and more toward us. He talked about The Cloud of Unknowing, that the message is about forgetting everything you think you know about God so it makes a space for Him to enter. “To know God,” he said, “you have to feel everything.” Then he started talking about his wife.
Her name had been Ann Marie. When he started talking about her it was as if something entered his body that changed his posture, made him taller. They had been together since college, and he said that while she had been alive he believed she could talk to Jesus. She would come downstairs some nights and say, matter-of-factly, that she had spoken to Him. Michael would be sitting in a chair reading a book by a small lamp and her hair would be falling out of its tie, slightly, and she was have that tired smile he knew so well. She wrote the things Jesus said on little pieces of paper that Michael still had in his wallet. He said she was the kindest person he had ever met, an angel walking around matter-of-factly on the earth. He couldn’t believe she loved him, that God would be that generous to a plain man. She had died five years before from a brief cancer. When she was dying, she was calm and impossibly kind, touching his face with this tips of her fingers and telling him that he would need to be strong, that God was working in his favor, that she would soon know how. And then, one day, so would he.
After we left the bar, we went down to the river and sat quietly, looking at the dark water, the shimmering silver of its movement. I felt like I needed to say something important but didn’t have anything to say. The profile of Sarah’s face ached into me, her hands I knew so well folded in her lap. When it was almost eleven, we snuck through the train yard and climbed the ladder into the boxcar, unrolled a sleeping bag and sat against the metal wall, looking at the bright stars.
When it started, it was a hard jolt that made my breath catch. I wasn’t expecting to feel so afraid. There were a series of loud bangs as the cars hit together. It started down the tracks, picking up speed, so loud we could barely hear each other. The sound of barreling over metal inside of metal started to lock my whole body up. It was so far from the natural world, so far from what we are naturally prepared. My instinctual self had no idea how to feel. It was like being in New York City or in an airplane, but so much louder. I put my hands over my ears. I started to sing, mostly so that my own sound would vibrate in my chest and slow my heart. Oh, where are our dear fathers? Day is a-breaking in my soul. They are down in the valley praying. Day is a-breaking in my soul. We both lied down next to each other, shivering again, a sleeping bag pulled over our bodies. We both slept thinly in the cold, moving around and trying to stay warm.
After a few hours, my knees and hands were covered in black. I was sitting and singing again, quietly, trying to find that quiet. Sarah sat up beside me, her eyes closed, listening to me sing, pulling the sleeping bag around her shoulder. She was still thinking of something, something I knew I would never be able to know. She put her head on my shoulder. I kept thinking about the man in the truck, kept hearing his voice right before I slammed the door. I knew she was thinking about him too. I thought about all the men I had known, all the men I had sat with inside their cars. I thought about all the men that were drinking themselves to death or crying or screaming themselves to death, all our fathers lost in some other world we would never be able to find. I knew that they were afraid, afraid of the things they had lost, afraid of losing, afraid most tragically of shame. Afraid in the ways we are afraid. I thought about all the men I had known and sat beside, the gentle, hard-working men with wives they loved, and sons and daughters, with a belief in something quiet. I knew that even they went out just before nightfall, maybe fished beside a pond as the sky turned, or walked around the house, looking for the moon. I knew they longed for something gone, maybe a first love they never spoke of, or something wordless, like God, like a letter they kept sewed into the lining of their coats. I think they longed most for their mothers, longed to be helpless, to be taken care of, to be so small they could be held in a woman’s arms forever. I longed for something too.
Sarah is singing now, beside me. Singing in a voice so pure I think that the dead are reentering our world. She is singing with me, and the train is screeching on the tracks, whining and weeping and screaming. She is singing, and day is breaking. We are huddled together, a sleeping bag around our shoulders. She is singing and smiling, her voice losing its strength. She is starting to laugh, the sun is rising behind the trees. She is singing louder, out of key and wavering. She is laughing, and I am laughing as the train passes through a little town. We see stoplights over the ridge of the boxcar, we see telephone polls with crows sitting side by side. We see the tops of restaurants. We see low clouds and a sinking sickle moon. Sarah is singing wildly and the dead are coming back. She is singing and I am laughing and we don’t know where we are.