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Maria Provenzano


Train Poem I


It is a federal offense to tamper

with or remove emergency equipment

when no emergency exists

            —notice posted in NJ Transit train car



I don’t want to resist the soft animal of myself

any longer. I try to remember—I am more


than this body and its animal fears. The cats

have found today’s sharp patch of sunlight.


The gray one on the tree stump, warm-blooded

sentinel, grooms itself. The light only dresses


the trees in such gauzy skirts at this precise moment

of morning. I am safe here. I’d like to return


to the normal stressors—unsure of the correct

train platform, or where to find parking in the city.


I am just a small animal, after all. Instinct

hasn’t caught up with technology just yet. And so


the deer, soft eyes, humming heart, will stand,

magnificently still, in the middle of a track


newer than her heritage in these woods, will stand

on this cool concoction of wood and metal, still


as stone, confront the oncoming brightness and siren

with her full face, cells dividing, without moving a muscle.


















































Maria Provenzano is a poet based in southern New Jersey. She writes about nature and identity and her work can be found or is forthcoming in Nimrod International Journal, Sonora Review, The Eco Justice Project, Wild Roof Journal, and elsewhere. She is a recent graduate of Randolph College’s MFA Program where she served as a poetry editor for Revolute Literary Magazine.

Train Poem II


The backyard that opens toward the tracks by the Hammonton station is home to a colony of cats. Different colors, orange, white, brown spots. Oh, and the little gray one. You have to look closely to see them. Sometimes a small gray cloud moves against the grass and I wonder how did you make it past all that sunshine to exist here with us?




Along the tracks, mimosa trees in bloom. As summer diminishes, their fanned pink blossoms fade to sepia.




When the doctors say you may need surgery again, I want to say no.




I want to ask, What do you do with a box

too heavy

to carry?




Have I told you about the cat yard? There’s a cat house, and shade from the mimosa trees.




Like flowers, trains retreat

and emerge

again. That’s life, I suppose –

stopping, rushing forward, going

backward along the same tracks




What do you do with a box too heavy for you to carry?


(Put it down.)


There’s no place.


(Give it to someone else.)


There’s no person.


(Drop it)


I can’t I can’t I





I dream the box is full

of feathers. It was only

pretending to be heavy.


I dream the box is a bird.

It unfurls its wings and lifts

impossibly from my fingers.




Earth shifts invisibly, always. Below our feet,

a deep belly of soil and rock, churning. Above, the tracks, the train.

This illusion of our choice

in movement.




I dream I am a bird

I am a bird I am

a bird




What do you do with a box

too heavy for you

to carry? What do you do

with a box

but open it?





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