I walk the railroad ties,
thick metal tracks bloodstained with rust
and rammed flush with spikes decades ago.
The stubby thistles slide their spines
into my bare toes regardless.
The rain starts,
drops the size of fists.
The specked asphalt expands until glossed
dark and drowning.
I need to pick up an old car from
some scruffy mechanics.
But I'd rather walk the tracks--
a Stand By Me moment--even
though the rest of it is city,
even though the rest is crowned by
rainspattered black-windowed buildings
and slick cars making fountains
behind them in the shiny streets
until the August heat sucks back up
its two inches of rain into those
I want to follow these plotted railroads.
A cargo bum with slivers in his toes
from the shredded pine ties
that began coming apart slowly long ago,
polished locomotive steel propelled greedily across.
But it just leads back to the city.
I cross the five-lane road
and rush inside out of the rain
to pick up the key to my beaten car.