POEM: “Oil Trains” by Barbara Draper

Repost from the Minneapolis Star Tribune
[Editor:  On October 8, 2015, the Star Tribune published Barbara Draper’s incredible, wonderful, beautiful, moving – and frightful – poem, “Oil Trains.”  The Star Tribune gave it their own title, “Slithering into Minneapolis.”   Published here with permission from the author (and reformatted to her specifications).  – RS]

More tank cars like these seen near Gladstone, N.D., are traveling through downtown Minneapolis. JIM GEHRZ • Star Tribune


A slithering line of obsidian tank-cars
from craven North Dakota
quakes the freshwater lakes of Minnesota,
then stuns the Mississippi.

Now on a neighborhood street in Minneapolis
it rumbles overhead —

over a bridge whose stanchions are stamped 1920.
Concrete crumbled off.
Ninety year-old steel shoulders the load.

I hold my breath against the ghost
like I did as a kid riding my bike past the cemetery.

Crows of unacknowledged intelligence
………….  ….and dive
as though raptors were invading their nests.

– Barbara Draper, Minneapolis