Listening Late in Wilkes-Barre, poem by Sarah Brown Weitzman

Some­thing in the sound set in me a longing
to grow up, lis­ten­ing late at night to the low
depart­ing whis­tle of the last express
as it escaped to the world walled out from me
by the mountains.

Lat­er when I learned that my coal val­ley city
lay above a cat­a­comb of tun­nels and shafts
I thought too much of those abandoned
tracks. I felt in my first-teen bones
the rot­ting of those tim­bers in the stream of damp
air down there and dreamt one night
of some­thing com­ing, of a demon liv­ing beneath
the city streets.

The dream turned black and I awoke to first menses
but I did not know what it was but thought a cursed
thing had lain near me and left behind his rusty smirch
a red that part­ly dried to coal upon my bed and gown.
Then from month to month I lived in the gush
and cramp of dread that one day walking
in a clean pink dress a huge anthracite hand
might grope up sud­den­ly through a curb grating
or drain and grab me by the leg and drag me down
to the mine in his need for gore.

I am grown now and have left that place
and child­hood ter­rors but some­times late
before the first bleed­ing of the sky
when the sound of a train’s far off whistle
starts that old flow of fear, the child in me still
waits for that damned smeared hand.


Sarah Brown Weitz­man [sbwpoet@​aol.​com] has had work in numer­ous jour­nals includ­ing THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, AMERICAN WRITING, POTOMAC REVIEW, AMERICA, MID-AMERICAN REVIEW, THE BELLINGHAM REVIEW. Her sec­ond chap­book, THE FORBIDDEN (2003, Pud­ding House) was fol­lowed by NEVER FAR FROM FLESH, a full-length vol­ume of poems (Pure Heart/Main Street Rag, 2005). In 1984 Weitz­man received a Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts fel­low­ship. She was a final­ist in the Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets’ Walt Whit­man Award twice, and more recent­ly was a final­ist for The Foley Prize in 2003. A for­mer New York aca­d­e­m­ic, Weitz­man is retired and lives in Florida.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.