Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Boston 29.6.02: Empty Trains, Trying Fellow Passengers

Evening train, Hartford, CT, to Boston, and little to write about. I’m here for the conference re: the Mark S. project and now Steve and I go to Boston to see Chuck F. and to vacation.

A man behind me is saying to a boy, “No bloody way. No flippin’ way. No bloody flippin’ way.” We now stop past Windsor, CT, beside a small lake fringed, on the track side, by sumac, elder flower, the yellow spike of mullein. The deep brown red of the sumac with the yellow mullein is striking, a combination someone should replicate in a garden. . . .

It’s funny how long an annoying phrase can stay with you. A man in the seat behind me is coughing pugnaciously, a no-need, I’m-here kind of cough, and he’s not covering his mouth from the sound of it.

And it makes me think back to something I heard Sr. Grace S. tell Sr. Kathleen O’H. 30 years ago or thereabouts. Grace was talking re: a night she’d spent recently at her motherhouse (Ursulines, Kansas). The nuns slept in a kind of dormitory partitioned by curtains. Another nun in the dormitory coughed all night long.

Grace told Kathleen that the coughs were spaced the interval of an Our Father. I was annoyed when I heard this, and am annoyed now, because of the sly self-referential say this says, “I was awake all night. And praying.”

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Eerie being on this almost empty train, knowing the days of commuter trains in the U.S. are numbered. The air conditioning has been off almost the whole trip. Now, as night thickens and we least need it, it’s blaring forth. All this made even more surreal by the scenes in Framingham as we pull into it—including a fair of some sort with a red Chinese arch in its middle and yellow blinking lights.

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