You've watched him become undone,
station by station. First it was just his face
gone slack in afternoon sleep, around Harrisburg.
And then, in Lancaster, you watched his cuff ride up
showing a pale length of shin that won't see sun again
until his August vacation.
And when his newspaper cascaded to the floor
one section at a time, it was finally safe
to set your book aside for a moment
to study the man and his bag
tilting together like two drunks on a bench.
Midway along another long curve,
the train sways all down its length,
just as every fan stops turning, and somewhere
a baby you didn't hear crying suddenly stops.
and you realize you've lost count
and can't name the next town.
You might have to wake the man
whom you heard on the phone an hour back
saying that today was the biggest day of his career.
When the train finally emerges from that no place
between towns, back into the world
of zip codes and cellphone service,
you will look for the station sign, so you can read it
for both of you, blinking in the sudden light,
both surprised to hear the name
that won't seem right for this little station
with hanging baskets of flowers
and no one on any of the iron benches
waiting for you to arrive.