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Don't You Hear That Whistle Blowin...

dreamed 1974/9/6 by Denise Levertov

The 4 a.m. freight comes pounding and shaking through
                                                                                 the fall night

and I go to the Middle Door to watch,
            through the plain glass that has
            stained glass around it,
pressing my forehead against the pane,

and Steve hurries along to look too--for he's out of Appalachia,
the lonesome romance of the rails West is in his bones;

and Richard comes close behind, gazing intently
                                                                        over my shoulder--
out of the Midwest and the rails West are in his blood,
and our friend Bo is at this very moment hoppin in Oregon
                                                                                   to pick pears;

and I seem to smell iron and rust, an animal smell,
                                                                           red and dusty,
even through the glass that's steaming up with our breaths.
So I start to open the door, to hear the last cars and the
                                                                                   caboose louder
and the sound of going away, and to see the stars,

and I want you, Mitch, to step out with me into the dark garden,
for you're standing back of me too, taller than anyone;

but as the cold air comes in I turn toward you and you're
                                                                                      not there.

Then I realize I'm waking up: the train really is going by
but the Middle Door's back in my childhood, not in America,

and there's no one in the house but you and me,
you asleep beside me in bed, and soon you'll have left

and this moment of dark boxcars just visible
under the paling stars, a train of looming forms from
                                                                              faraway states
lurching through the edge of Boston,

is just the beginning of a long train of times I'll turn
to share a vision with you and find I'm dreaming.

--Denise Levertov--

EDITOR'S NOTES

This poem can be found in Levertov's collection The Freeing of the Dust (New York, New Directions, 1975).

Levertov actually dated Whistle "September 6-7, 1974". Dreamers all must decide whether to record a dream as a late-evening event, or an early-morning one, or both, as Levertov does. For brevity, the convention of the World Dream Bank has been to date night-dreams as late-evening events.

--Chris Wayan--



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