Nature Morte: The Rail-Trail
Noah Kucij

First the railroad withered at the tendrils,
lines bled poor by sprawl and blight
returned to forest floor.
Sometime later men came swinging cutlasses,
unloading miles of stone
so we could cross the town by foot.
We conspired to crush the path to dust
with sneaker soles and strollers,
hold the trees apart with sky.

Last time there I waded past
my knees in vetch and ragweed, skirted
gaping ruts up to the bridge, its rotted
floorboards flushed into the creek. Around
the old train’s new last stop, a splay
of sun-clean bones, some mammal’s, and
a woman’s underwear, robin’s egg
blue—both shed without
a sound while we were elsewhere.

Noah Kucij’s poems appear in Verse Daily, 32 Poems, Storm Cellar, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is the 2016 winner of the Phyllis Hurd Liston Poetry Prize and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart. His chapbook, Burned Papers, was published by Toadlily Press as part of its four-poet volume The Fifth Voice (2006). He lives and works in upstate New York.