The orange half-moon winks at us as it drops to the ground. The Canadian continues its journey westward, unaffected by the darkness that envelops everything around it. In the dark coach car, only a few reading lights point their narrow pencil beams to the seats below, lighting the worn pages of books in the hands of passengers awaiting the sandman.
I lean my head on the cold window and close my eyes, hoping sleep will come soon. I can hear the young couple chatting and laughing, loudly, a few rows behind. They’ve never heard the saying “use your spa voice,” obviously. The lady across the row, the one with the sleep mask, the fluffy pillows, and the thick comforter, talks to the characters in her dream. I hope she doesn’t sleepwalk. A green light flies by; I see its glow through my closed eyelids.
Then two red lights. Don’t two red lights mean stop? For a brief second, I wonder if the engineer could have missed the signal, barreling down the track toward the next freighter heading in the opposite direction. I shift in my seat and look around. Seems I’m the only person who has noticed. The train’s whistle blares, its sound sliding by me toward the back of the train. The collision I imagined never comes. The night steals Saskatchewan… The sun will rise in Alberta.
Night time on the rails
Signal lights break the darkness
Lonely and cold out
Harvest arrived early in Manitoba this year, compared to its western cousins. Soya and corn was pretty much all that was left standing in a few fields visible from the train, whereas still plenty of canola lay neatly piled in rows, drying out in the sun, and waiting to be harvested in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Staring out at the fields, their neatly organized rows mowed down by now, I remembered my first walk in a field of stubble. Unlike a lush lawn, or warm soft sand, the sight awakes memories of walking on nails: rough, dry, unwelcoming. Unless you’re a Canada goose that is, who revel in the seeds that escaped the metal munching machine, before heading south.
A long lonely day
Collecting the year’s bounty
Goodness from the earth
Gentle waves lap at the beach
Then retreat out to sea slowly
Eager diners, plovers and sandpipers
Scurry about for a quick bite
All at once, it seems, the sun disappears
Drawing a straight dark line on the horizon
Separating midnight blue water
From an ever-darkening liquid copper sky
No wonder our planet was once flat
Or so our forefathers thought
Because way out there lies that boundary
Between what we see and what we must believe
The verge of consciousness, present and future
Between today and tomorrow, now and infinity
Stretched out further than our eyes can see
The last discernible word on the page
Where sailboats must surely end their voyage
Bow rising on the final whitecap, the instant
Before floating downward into the unknown
Having reached the edge of the earth…