Hours transporting dreams never-before-dreamed
and hopes for the maybe-possible,
end in clouds of steam and coal smoke as the Wabash Bluebird
chugs to a stop,
returning the 10 year-old child from the City of Big Shoulders
to his home in the Corn Belt.
His mind swims with the big city memory of the real league-of-their-own girls,
staying with his aunt Agnes in the back of her antique shop,
drifting off to the rumble of Cottage Grove Green Hornets.
He brings home the awe of a big world
to his little town,
the big world of traffic, sirens, paddy wagons
and their wonderful, lethal exhaust,
of neighborliness painted by the denizens
of a next-door bar,
who tell him stories of the city,
with a sandwich and a coke,
just because he’s a kid,
The Bluebird grows ghostly as he watches it depart for the South.
Could perhaps the world be an immense, never-ending
Then for the first time the child sees his home town
as a different place,
through new eyes.
And he sees the metropolis as a place
of excitement, curiosity, creativity.
Where the heart cares about more than its next beat.
Ripples of heat radiate from the crops
for another ten summers,
and ten more winters shroud the remains in snow.
An ever-stronger force draws the boy toward
the city where he needs to be.
As departure looms real,
the brave boy is brave only until the leaving.
The brave are always afraid when first they awake.
At the final leaving,
the golden harvest of that final season
sets the wedding car aglow
with its luminous halo
on the grand highway to the Windy City.
And all else fades to gray.
– – Written by Larry Ambrose