Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We make our way
to and from Bald Knob,
the highest point
of the Cass Scenic Railway—
an altitude of 4700 feet.
The first time we stop,
on the way up, the conductor
plucks a low branch
from a Mountain Ash,
brings red berries aboard.
The engine lets off steam,
and a few cinders fly by,
as we rise at a 7% grade
with Shay #6 pulling us
(rather than pushing),
after we’ve gone through
one of the switchbacks.
On the return trip,
trunks of trees are black,
and it’s cooler on the train.
We move at faster clip
(because gravity assists us).
Still we must stop
to take on water,
as the sun sets in rays that shine
through smoky air. We see
fallen tree branches,
a blaze of fall color
from far-away hills,
moss and yellow-green ferns
with flowers that look fuzzy,
large rocks from which
actual gardens sprout,
the evergreen Red Spruce.

About Helen Losse:
Helen Losse is the author of two full length poetry books, Seriously Dangerous (Main Street Rag, 2011) and Better With Friends (Rank Stranger Press, 2009), and two chapbooks.  She grew up in Joplin, MO but now lives in Winston-Salem, NC and is the Poetry Editor for The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

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