Through a life in Pennsylvania
coal country, his black hair,
wet anthracite parted neatly,
never grayed. Wire-rim glasses,
a sharp nose, a broad smileó
he could have been
a slick banker in a white shirt
but worked the trains,
tapping Morse code with large hands
until the Scranton line closed.
At 60, too young to retire,
he took a job making fish sticks,
baking them to perfection
in massive ovens, laying them
like rail ties in heavy pans.
When the Susquehanna flooded
his two-story house on Cherry Street,
the old photos were ruined,
but until death he told stories
in a constant chuckle:
the mine collapse, his Boy Scout
misadventures, the fools
he worked with, the sound
of fading train whistles.
If you have any comments on this poem, Ken Autrey would be
pleased to hear from you.