Twas the barest wee knock on the old lady’s front door.
Agatha Agnes made her way, slow, from the divan to answer.
Things this past year for her had left her tired and sore:
Bisquick Cat had been ill, while her Bob finally passed from cancer.
Peering from her peephole Agatha Agnes could just see
The head of her little girl neighbor with her new winter bonnet;
And couldn’t help but wonder what new evil this could be.
Patiently, the little neighbor held a box with a big green bow on it.
Agatha Agnes pulled slowly open her door of oaken ebony
And said to the little girl struggling with the mighty box:
“Leslie Katherine, what on earth have you brought to me!”
The little girl then blushed hot crimson from bonnet to her socks.
“Murry Chwistmus,” tried Leslie Katherine, offering up the bundle.
“Why, thank you,” answered Agatha Agnes, taking the box in hand.
Finally freed, Leslie Katherine bolted the porch skipping off in a trundle.
Agatha Agnes slowly went back inside to see about this present too grand.
Back in the divan, our old lady went to pull off the grand green bow,
Then pulled apart the plain white paper on the box, and opened the flaps:
Lifted out from the packing peanuts a large silver frame made a show—
An old black and white portrait of Agatha Agnes next to her Bob in his riding chaps!
Later Agatha Agnes would learn the story how this last Christmas present came to be:
Bob realized his cancer would soon win and wanted to surprise his bonny bride.
So, retrieving the silver frame with his old college degree inside from U of Mississippi—
He took her favorite picture of them happy and young, in love, and slid that inside.
Bob had met with the neighbors and asked Leslie Katherine for a special boon:
To present the box to Mrs. Jefferson, at her convenience, on Christmas Day.
The Cabbotts readily agreed, even though it was an early hot, summer June.
But they remembered; and after lunch, Leslie Katherine had made her careful way.
Real Love is timeless, despite those events that cause breath-catching with maybe a spilt tear.
Cherish all your loved ones, be passed or present: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Once she was so pretty—
Now she tries to look not so old.
Can you still see her eyes sparkle
Beneath her hair of store-bought gold?
Have you found your one and only?
Hold on with all you’ve got,
Or like those who end up so lonely,
You may forget the grace you were taught.
He used to know so much—
Now he thinks he’s lost his place.
He still loves his son and family
Even though he’s not sure about my face.
Study as hard as you can
And master the skills you need,
But keep a hard eye on Time
Which flies by at a freight train’s speed.
I still think she’s a beauty,
Even with her store-bought hair.
And despite the wrinkles and the crinkles,
I love her; and the rest? I no longer much care.
Her bags had been packed for a little while;
She gave up, having given him his chance—
She’d hoped he’d call or maybe something more.
At last the horn sounded off in the distance.
She attended Randolph-Macon, a sweet little school,
In the heart of the little railroad town called Ashland.
Tuition was tight, and she had to work most nights,
But she managed to keep onto some cash in hand.
Going home on Christmas Eve, she bundled up tight.
He said something that he worked at something in travel,
But shared not very much more, though he held her hand.
At the crimson memory, she scuffed her shoes in the gravel.
The bells and lights popped on the England Street gates
While clanged the Regional into the charming station;
Down to Charleston for the last of the school holiday:
The tracks sang shrill along with her wistful anticipation.
As the P40 slowed to a pause on old track number three,
The student grabbed her suitcase to get on aboard.
The door unfolded open, the conductor stepped off;
The yellow stool down; he reached out to guide her forward.
Student-waitress and nice guy-conductor stood stock still—
Alan? Kathy? But the press of passengers soon broke the spell,
And everyone got onboard quickly and surely aboard.
I believe the two had lots to say, one could just kind of tell.
The bell clanged again on the AMTRAK Regional Southbound
As the train slipped slowly down the road-girded track.
Curious folks on an online camera wondered at the pas de duex:
Of two hearts with a whole new story that overnight they’d unpack.
The gates rose back up to home and the bells fell silent;
The holidays lights on the street lamps flickered small-town cheer.
One engine and 8 carriages had been rightly and true counted—
While Ashland, virtual and real, awaited a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
The fallen leaves scattered across the tracks,
Southbound 53 would push these farther on.
A love that was empty as Ashland’s winter trees—
A hard weight was lifted now that she’d gone.
No tears, but also no joy, would be found here.
Yes, may the very best find its way over to her;
And should any good be left over hanging out
Perhaps might could entertain here along with Jack’s purr.
Santy Claus is due to arrive in a few days
And we’ve all tried to be and to do our best;
But sometimes it’s never close to good enough
And you cancel flights along with all the rest.
Maybe in the new year happiness real will come
And everyone can breathe and let it all just be;
Festivals and dances return for our lives renewed
And I can get back to that crescent bend in the Mississippi.
The southbound blew its horn passing thru Ashland town
And the online chatroom railfans counted up all the cars.
The empty trees shimmied in the rolling winter wind;
The resettled leaves looked up and counted up all the stars.
Wait…what do I hear?
Is that a train’s calling horn?
It’s warbling powerful note
That’s moved us since we were born?
Times a wasting!
Get on over to Ashland!
Gonna play at Train Day
The very best that I can!
There go the gates
As the lights start to blink.
Saturday twould be better spent
Meeting Tender and Cinder, don’t you think?
So, its November the Fourth,
From ten am until afternoon five;
For the best of an American little town
Proving Just Plain Goodness is still alive!
Please, sign the petition
And meet Kathy’s Clowns;
More fun than an old football team
Taking over on downs.
So, get on over here
Before I’ve run out of verse;
Come to Train Day in Ashland—
At the Center of the Universe!
Wait…what do I hear
Is that a train’s calling horn?
It all starts this Saturday
On a fresh, cool Autumn’s morn.
(Happy Birthday sm6175!!!)
Cold front coming:
Get some blankets and extra socks.
Passed up on a life
With a sweet goldilocks.
So, I’m back in my own
Doing some laundry
While composting soliloquy.
I’m not in the photo,
Entered Seventh Grade.
Tossed from senior rec room,
Still ain’t yet made the grade.
It’s still all an illusion,
My calculus was all wrong.
Ennui neck and neck with nostalgia
With second thoughts coming on strong.
How can you leave the concert early?
The Force has left the room.
Remember when 6th grade H.W. Allen math
Was interrupted by a Keesler sonic boom?
But here come the rains
As the winds turn to flip North.
Who wants to meet in Ashland?
Its Train Day November 4th!
Cold front coming!
Morning’s temps will bite.
But forever will I be
Rooting for that Green and White!
Hello, old flame—
Is it time to relight dead embers?
And are your eyes green or blue,
Asks the one who never remembers?
And do you remember when
We sunburned on Sandbridge Beach,
Searching for a lifelong love
That was always so far out of reach?
One of us sailed away;
The other went back to school.
Luckily you had escaped
A life with this poor old fool.
And why do we always reframe
The errors of our youthful past?
Now so older and wiser,
We know nothing can so long last
As the longing for sure arms;
Or someone to chase the dark cloud.
But, it seems to be my lot
That that someone I’m not allowed.
So, I guess I have to ask:
Do you even remember my name?
Because here I come a-calling—
Hello, old flame.