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The writer’s observations of fellow railway passengers in the 1920s coalesce into an authentically joyous work
On the Train
IThe lady in front of me in the car,With little red coils close over her ears,Is talking with her friend;And the circle of ostrich foam around her hat,Curving over like a wave,Trembles with her little windy words.What is she saying, I wonder,That her feathers should trembleAnd the soft fur of her coat should slip down over her shoulders?Has her string of pearls been stolen,Or maybe her husband?IIHe is drunk, that man –Drunk as a lord, a lord of the bibulous past. He shouts wittily from his end of the car to the man in the corner;He bows to me with chivalrous apologies.He philosophizes, plays with the wisdom of the ages,Flings off his rags,Displays his naked soul –Athletic, beautiful, grotesque.In the good time coming,When men drink no more,Shall we ever see a nude soul dancingStript and freeIn the temple of his god?IIIShe comes smiling into the carWith iridescent bubbles of children.She blooms in the close plush seatsLike a narcissus in a bowl of stones.She croons to a baby in her lap —The trees come swinging by to listen,And the electric lights in the ceiling are stars.
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