Waiting for Duty

Waiting for Duty

 

I walked through the cinders and tasted the smoke

of the engines that paused there; fireboxes to stoke

 

in the heat of north India those railmen did toil

then chai in the office; the kettles a-boil.

 

Strange words for a greeting, they welcomed me there,

then come meet the boss now: and pull up a chair.

 

I walked through the cinders and tasted the smoke

as I went round the shed, in my notebook I wrote

 

of the engines and valve gear and tenders I saw

while oiling and coaling: of these men I’m in awe.

 

I remembered my childhood and traveling by train

from the great Midland city, vacation the aim

 

I walked through the cinders and tasted the smoke

as a teen through my twenties, by memories smote

 

of the smells and the sounds of those engines of yore

that stayed in my heart strings till brought to the fore

 

by the engines that paused there; fireboxes to stoke

and the joy of the cinders and tasting the smoke.

 

 

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