Summer, 2010 / No. 24

At night the freight train murmurs to the floor.

The floor is moved and shudders in its boards,

and we’re awake. I wish I had a better ear.

A nail chatters in its slot, taps up against the wood

it split once, years and years ago. Its beat

might teach us of a nail’s life: a single thrust,

baptismal, then the holding fast, the holding things

one to the other. This is a life that knows

with clarity its purpose—for a time. The ties

do loosen, though; and so the fretful nights

when train seduces floor, disordering the peace.

I wish I had a better ear. For all this fuss

the train sticks to its route: it perseveres,

moving and moving on and leaving things

a little more dislodged. And we’re awake.

Peter Norman lives in Bloorcourt. His first book of poetry, At the Gates of the Theme Park, was published in 2010 by Mansfield. Douglas & McIntyre will publish his debut novel, Emberton, in 2011. Last updated summer, 2011.