I watched the miles, I saw my life go by, A drumbeat of bare trees and frozen ponds, Forlorn stations, ruined factories. I must have dozed, my head against the glass. Women I dreamed I would have died for once Mourned me in a dream. South by southwest Our train cleaved the horizon, pushed the sun Toward somebody else's sunrise, while Heaven and earth denied my day was done, Painting a fantastic continent Of cumulus and ether, air and mist, Real as any land to a waking man. A wall of purple hills sloped to the shore In fluted cliffs; cloud archipelagos Edged with golden beaches jeweled a sea Bluer than our sky. Had I missed my stop? Now was I on my way out of this world, Alone on the express to Elysium, Lotus trees, the lost woman of my dreams? Shadows deepened and the speeding train Rolled on into twilight. Slowly then I came to myself, cold, woke to the thought: This is how it must be at the end of the line. You cannot tell the water from the sky, Mourners from the dead, or clouds from land. The fire of the sun has tricked you blind, And earth, air and water join in one.
From The Glass House by Daniel Mark Epstein. Copyright © 2009 by Daniel Mark Epstein. Used by permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.