Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Masterworks Series: Manchester Valley

Manchester Valley

My grandfather saw them laying that track back in 1891
When the railroad came to New Hope.
He said he’d seen folks settle the valley
Coming in by ox and wagon.
He marveled at the wonders
Of American progress.
“That’s what this country’s all about,” he said.
We're a nation on the move.”

As a young boy
I used to watch the train
Wind its way through the town.
For a few minutes,
It was all whistle, clatter, and motion;
Massive machinery
Plowing through 
The stillness of the valley.
In each car I could glimpse passengers
On their way to other places,
And the town would pause
For the mighty locomotive.

Mostly it was quiet, though,
Across the valley.
I would look out at the ridge beyond the town –
Trees marking the hills like sentinels.
“How like a bowl,”
I sometimes thought,
“This valley where I live,”
Wondering how a boy would climb out
To see the world beyond.
In every direction
I beheld the tree-lined rim
In the distance.

Then that train whistle would blow,
Engine proudly moving through.
It became ingrained in my being
That one day I would ride those rails
Out of the bowl of my childhood valley.
I would see America.

                                                               ~ CK

Image: Manchester Valley, from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City
Artist: Joseph Pickett (1848 - 1918)
Medium: Oil with sand on canvas
Date: circa 1914

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