Lawrence Raab

It’s Not Just Trains
August 16, 2011 Raab Lawrence

It’s Not Just Trains


The ticket office was closing
when we arrived and were informed
our train had left ahead of schedule.

“Is that possible?” I asked.  “Trains
depart on time, or late, but never early.”
“Such things happen,” the agent replied,

“more often than you would think.”
Then he added, “Look around
and pay attention.  It’s not just trains.”

When I told my family the story
of our predicament, I was taken aback
by their lack of surprise.  “Let’s wander

a while through this pretty little town,”
my wife proposed, “and see what happens.”
“Or else,” said my son, “let’s head off

into that dark woods beyond the tracks,
each alone and without our baggage,
and see if we can find our way out

before nightfall.”  He smiled, I thought,
at me in particular, as if he’d known
all along that would be the plan.

Lawrence Raab is the author of ten books of poems, including Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts (Tupelo, 2015), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and named one of the Ten Best Poetry Books of 2015 by The New York Times, and What We Don’t Know About Each Other (Penguin, 1993), a winner of the National Poetry Series and a finalist for the 1993 National Book Award. His latest collection is April at the Ruins (Tupelo, 2022). Why Don’t We Say What We Mean?, essays about poetry, appeared in 2016. He is the Harry C. Payne Professor of Poetry Emeritus at Williams College.