Goosefeathers by Donald Hall
(Thanks to The Writers Almanac)
When I was twelve I sat by myself in the steamliner
with a shoebox of sandwiches and deviled eggs
my mother made, and ate everything right away
as the train headed north by the Sound where trestles
of derelict trolley lines roosted nations of seagulls.
From South Station I took a taxi across Boston
to a shabby, black locomotive with coal car
that pulled two rickety coaches. It puffed past
long lines of empty commuter trains, past
suburbs thick with houses, past the milltowns
of Lawrence and Lowell, until the track curved
into New Hampshire's pastures of Holstein cattle.
My grandfather waited in his overalls at the depot
with horse and buggy to carry me to the farmhouse,
to fricasseed chicken, corn on the cob, and potatoes.
At nine o'clock, after shutting up the chickens
from skunk and fox, we sat by the cabinet radio
for Gabriel Heatter booming news of the war.
I slept through the night on my goosefeather bed.
"Goosefeathers" by Donald Hall, from The Back Chamber. © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. Reprinted with permission.