The railroad tracks behind my childhood home feature prominently in the tracks of my memory. It had been years though since I spent any significant amount of time on or around them.
Chasing crawdaddies and tadpoles in the pooled water, among the reeds and cattails that back up to the east side of the tracks and their berm of shiny black cinder dust. Skipping over one, two, three tracks in a race to the treehouse. When my brothers finally vacated it for the afternoon. Climbing on the old coal cars and flatbeds with steel pipes, the train often sitting for weeks on end, holding in a flux of supply and demand I would only later learn is economics.
When that train lurched into motion, high pitched creaks and groans, slowly rolling over the pennies on the tracks and once taking my brother a mile down the way to the pipe and tube plant for which he was most definitely grounded. Or taking care to avoid the prickly pear cactus that grew on the west side of the berm. And marveling at the monarchs who labored there and rested on the weeping willows before traveling further north.
So here I am. I’m 39 and the air is humid like summer but the light is angled like autumn and I’m on these tracks. Long ago abandoned by whatever bankrupt railroad company owned them, only to be revisited by the nostalgia of my youth.