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the sign :: patricia traxler

by on January 14, 2016

It might have been a Hitchcock movie:
The Butterflies. They were in the air
everywhere, over cobbled streets, across
the highway and the railroad tracks

at Linz, kamikaze butterflies dashing
windshields, a floating wall of white aflutter
in the air like crumpled tissues; beauty
metamorphosed into pestilence. On the train

the mood endured. We settled into a cluttered light,
the car’s chatter, accelerating rhythm of the rails,
everything at once remote and intimate. Your eyes
were your father’s dark eyes. Out the window

in the fog a freight yard heaped with scrap iron,
stacked ties, refuse; the sign just a flicker
above the gate, unreadable. Opposite us, a drowsy
worker. Arbeiter. Blond, like me, blue-eyed.

Everyone I see here, I wonder. A slow silence solidified
the air; paraffin. I turned my eyes to the window like
evidence to hide, drowned them in the Danube. After
a while you found my hand and held it right next to

your ribs. The worker dozed. Your heart beat
against my knuckles as we watched the land slip by.
Blue Danube. It moved, inelectable as history, all
the way to Vienna it moved alongside our train.

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