Displaced Person’s Song
If you see a train this evening,
Far away, against the sky,
Lie down in your woolen blanket,
Sleep and let the train go by.
Trains have called us, every midnight,
From a thousand miles away,
Trains that pass through empty cities,
Trains that have no place to stay.
No one drives the locomotive,
No one tends the staring light,
Trains have never needed riders,
Trains belong to bitter night.
Railway stations stand deserted,
Rights-of-way lie clear and cold,
What we left them, trains inherit,
Trains go on, and we grow old.
Let them cry like cheated lovers,
Let their cries find only wind,
Trains are meant for night and ruin,
And we are meant for song and sin.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
I enjoyed the initial meeting of the group that was to read Gravity’s Rainbow. My only problem was the distance. The drive, on a Wednesday evening, from my work, across town, fighting traffic all the way and back – was no fun at all. It made me doubt my commitment. Plus, one of my goals for the year was to reduce my (for me) already low driving mileage. A there-and-back-again trip across town every week would add to (maybe double) my driving.
But after thinking about it and then a good consultation of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit website I realized that I could leave from the LBJ/Central DART train station near my work, ride downtown on the Red line, and then after walking a couple short blocks, ride the new Dallas Streetcar across the Trinity River Bottoms to Bishop Arts – only a couple more blocks to my destination – The Wild Detectives.
So that’s what I did – I filled my book bag with my tabbed copy of Gravity’s Rainbow and my copy of Zak Smith’s Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow (for reference and grins) and headed for the station.
The ride was enjoyable – or at least better than fighting the million other cars that are going somewhere at the same time as I was. Something about sitting in a train, relaxed, looking out the window at the miles of cars sitting still, on freeway and cross streets, all the white lights lines up on the left and the red ones on the right.
The streetcar is pretty cool. It crosses the river where there are no overhead power lines, so it is the first streetcar to rely on batteries to bridge an unelectrified stretch.
The trip isn’t fast – it took an hour each way… mostly spent waiting on a train or streetcar. The walks at each end or between stations weren’t bad at all, though.
Oh, and the discussion was enjoyable and cool. And someone brought banana bread.