Arrival – Robert Miltner

The train pulls into the station, its engine wheels clacking to a long metallic whine. Doors slide open and passengers disembark, step onto the crowding platform, bags in hands or on backs. Everyone rushes to transfer or find a nearby turnstile. I’m changing from the blue line to the green line to find my destination.

Rising with the sun this morning, I felt myself different than I was yesterday. Drinking coffee on the porch before I left, I could have winged into endless flight. The silver tinny glint of a silent airplane was flashing across the cloudless sky, its white vapor trail a kite’s tail streaming. I wanted to be on board, traveling quickly across the great expanse of the planet so as to land on some different continent where close-together whitewashed houses and apartments sleep under red tile roofs.

Seated at a small iron table outside a cafe, backpack and laptop on an empty chair, I pour clear wine from a carafe and watch friends and lovers walking arm-in-arm under awnings and trees.  I listen closely to the footsteps and heartbeats of strangers. A waiter asks what I want. I say summer. A breeze sounds perfect as a child’s laugh.

Already spring is arraying, rearranging the horizon; where once dark trunks looked like scarecrows, the greening branches lift now and fall like fledglings’ wings. The sun feels good on my face. Shutting my eyes, I hear the heavy doors of the train car close behind me, listen to the steel sound of wheels humming into the indigo distance.

Robert MiltnerRobert Miltner’s nonfiction has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Great Lakes Review, Pithead Chapel, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Eastern Iowa Review, and DIAGRAM. His book of prose poetry is Hotel Utopia (New Rivers Press, 2011, selected by Tim Seibles for its Many Voices book award); his collection of short fiction is And Your Bird Can Sing (Bottom Dog Press, 2014). Miltner is professor of English at Kent State University Stark and is on the faculty (fiction and poetry) of the NEOMFA. He edits The Raymond Carver Review.