A Whisper of Warning

Level crossing control - geograph.org.uk - 920195


By Delbert H. Rhodes

About 5:30 A.M., my ears sing with sounds. At first, the sounds are far away, but then slowly they move closer. Suddenly, everything trembles from the blasts. “Wooo!” “Wooooooo!” “Wooo!” “Wooooooo!”

The tracks clank as echoes reflect iron wheels, and a sleepy morning wakes with a grumble. Cautiously and carefully, but quickly, the Iron Maiden creeps down the rails. Always worrying, always aware that something, or someone might be there in her path, might be there in her way. Therefore, as she rolls she loudly sounds her whistle.

The Maiden embellishes the morning with a whisper of warning. A warning some fail to hear, some fail to heed. Many times her kiss is a wake of terror, tears and sorrow; embracing the daring in merciless arms of majesty and might. Many times as she makes her way and just for sport, she is challenged. Moreover, many times, the results are death. Foolish actions of the young, of the brave and adventurous, are met with cold and permanent stillness.

Continuing in her path, and though my bed lies in the distance, her whistle pulls at my pillow. As the walls around me resound with shrill, something happens. Suddenly, the morning is filled by a captivating calm. The moving cries, the rumble of wheels, the stealth of steel, all seem fixed. All seem to resonate from one distant location.

Waiting, and as if wondering what to do, she sits, hoping, perhaps, that her screams are heard, and that her stillness shakes awake a sleeping help. Also, as if angry, because now she is off schedule, because now she runs late. “Woo.” “Wooooooooo!”Repeatedly, she cries. “Wooo.” “Wooooooooo!”

Tempestuously: perhaps something blocks her way, but then maybe, I think, someone needs help. “Move, come on move,” her whistle bellows. Huffing and trembling in idle, she wants desperately roll. Huff, Puff, Huff, Puff: “Move, come on move!” Steaming, she screams and snorts down the tracks, clanking her wheels on the rails. Then again, and in an instant, silence.

For unknown reasons her demanding, robust and emphatic cries, no longer occur. Nothing rolls, nothing thunders, nothing screams: nothing, at all. The morning quietly whispers, and waits and in the silence straining to hear, I too linger. I hear no sirens or emergency vehicles racing to the Maiden. I hear no whining saws, searing and biting into metal. I hear no anguish, or horror because something, or someone perished beneath her wheels. Yes, what I hear is her torment tiptoeing on the tracks.

Bird songs wipe melodious eyes, awaiting cue from the ‘Maestro.’ Resting its throat, and watching from the wings, the quieted voice has stepped off stage. Preparing for a peak performance, the voice wets its whistle. The Conductor taps his wand, and with theatrical grace, arcs it into the air. As silence hushes, and dark-light adorns her, the locomotive sings into action.

Hers is a rhythmic mechanized melody, as she regains tempo on the tracks. “Whoop… Whoop.” “Whoooop.” She whistles a metallic tune, which is musical, almost magical. “Wooo.” “Wooo.” Again, she cries. “Wooooooooo!” Wooooooo!” As rolling thunder vibrates the morning, the whistle shakes heavenly shoulders; and snorting smoke as she slithers away, the Iron Maiden hisses.

Whenever the Maiden crosses intersections, special attention is given to safety. Bells warn while long arms reach down blocking the tracks on both sides. These interrupt crossings assuring the train safe passage. Naturally, and as always, the reckless impede measures of safety; and sometimes pay a price, a very high price. As she passes, and whenever I am present, the Maiden’s flashing lights wink at me, while her breezes blow kisses to my car. The car’s ego revs and its grill adorns a gleaming smile.

Always, I am thankful, albeit somewhat jealous. Then I watch the Iron Maiden, as the powerful stroke of her pistons, and the melodic synchrony of her might, sing a song to the rails, moving her farther and farther down the tracks.

Lying in the quiet, I wonder from where she comes, subsequently, to where she goes? A strange visitor: turning and twisting into time. Personally, I have never met her, but somehow, there is a kinship, a closeness. Perhaps, even a friendship. Always, she is there and when needed; and whenever nearby, she calls. Periodically, and as long as she has the time, she stops. What more could one ask of a friend…any friend?

Rolling into history, and in the eyes of many, the Maiden is a beauty. The glorified goddess swelling and throbbing in our hearts, she is a cuddlesome cradle of mystery. While sweetly tiptoeing into time, she tirelessly keeps vigil, ever ready to wake us, to warn us.

As her cries of goodbye become distant, and the winds sluice her tears, already, I miss her. She is a real lady, and I want her to stay. This Lady: whose kiss could be her last, nevertheless permissively poised by passions is ironclad, an unforgettable memory; fashioned by backs, brawn, and brains of dedicated men. Good men: men wanting the best for the best. Facing perfection: they demanded more. In awe of majesty: less was unacceptable.

Although her closeness is temporary, I am fortunate. Additionally, whenever hearing her “Wooo” I smile. For, her embrace is loving, tender and complete; it satisfies me, secures me.

Therefore, and as the twilight smiles in her face, and she makes her way down the rails, I await our next encounter. Consequently, she whispers sweet nothings, as she comes, and then warms me with her wiggle, as she goes. “Wooooooo!”

Copyright © 2002-2017 Delbert H. Rhodes

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