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Orford Lake

When I was a boy, wasting slack

summer, I’d sprawl on my belly beside 

the CNR railway tracks, listening

for the dayliner on its clickety-clak 

from Sherbrooke into Montreal. Most 

days the train flew by. But on special 

July days kissed with mystery the

ratty flag would rise from the back

of the two-car train, and a bundle 

of mail would tumble into the weeds. 

Or a passenger descend, blinking 

against the sunshine at me behind

the tiger lillies and feverfew. Like a 

ferret in the undergrowth. Today, 

the engineer smiles as he passes, 

consults his silver watch without stopping, 

at precisely3:23. His mail bag 

empty of surprise. The train does 

not stop beside the tickweed anymore.

Mr. Parrott does not stumble off

the train after half a dozen pilseners.

nor would I wish it so if he could.