All Aboard | Poetry Where You Least Expect It
Starved for colors, I found myself marveling at the platinum-hued potato chip bag by the side of the road as if it were a marsh marigold or goldfinch. Right now I find even the jewel tones of a green plastic bottle and cobalt Bud Lite can beautiful, basking next to mud. Our spiffy tubs of pansies and geraniums are still some weeks off, yet as we emerge from winter’s monochrome, there’s still the urge to search for something lovely.
In lieu of all the vibrant hues that will bloom and chirp in the months to come, visitors to Montpelier’s business district will find hints and glimpses in store windows. April is National Poetry Month, and the Capitol City helps residents and visitors garden the mind by providing verse to pause and read on the way to the bank or the bagel place or the library or in my case, the Amtrak station at Montpelier Junction.
Amtrak’s “Vermonter” leaves St. Alban’s Vt once a day at 8:58 in the morning and runs south to Washington D.C. (This is going to sound like the proverbial math problem, but it’s true) The once a day northbound Vermonter leaves Washington D.C. at 8:10 am. (Often, they’ll pass each other in Connecticut or Massachusetts.)
Today, I’m riding south, but before I board the train I have a little reverse vandalism to do. The Montpelier Junction station is two miles from downtown, near a batch of industrial buildings, perhaps just a tad beyond the decorative reach of PoemCity.
Every day, seven days a week, Annette Hayward, the station master drives over from Northfield and unlocks the tiny station twice a day. Inside, the lobby has a quirky charm—a hodgepodge of faded photos of trains surging across America; a vintage train schedule from the Chicago Alton Line’s “Luxury on Wheels” listing the hourly departures from Kansas City; and hand decorated signs for Annette’s Blackberry Jam $6.50 for the small jars $7.50 for large (she’s all out now, but she’s got the frozen berries so she’ll have more soon). In addition to my two duffel bags, I’m also lugging a picture framed poem written by Burlington, VT poet, Ralph Culver. In my coat pocket I have two gallery-quality thumbtacks.
I have always believed in certain cases it is better to ask forgiveness than permission, so with my contribution to National Poetry Month tucked under my arm, I “step into the restroom,” and return to the lobby after a few moments, unencumbered.
Several minutes later Annette heads to the loo and I swallow hard, because I was hoping I’d be rolling out of town before she noticed my “augmentation.” I’ve positioned it so that men are more likely to see it. Maybe she won’t notice? She emerges and says, “Did you hang that?”
I blush. “Yes?”
She says, “I love it!”
Hopefully anyone railroading into Vermont’s capitol will, too.