S.O.S

IMG_0678 (2).JPG

 

S. O .S.
McAdam Railway Station #8

“Dozing in the cab, I was.
Smelt a different smoke.
It wasn’t my engine’s.

Looked around.
Saw flames. One, two,
three houses on fire.

Steam was up. Yessir.
Three short hoots I gave.
Three long. Three short.

S.O.S. Mayday. Mayday.
S.O.S. S.O.S. Kept going
till house lights came on.

People running. Leaving homes.
Jumped out of the cab.
Ran out to help them.

They thanked me.
Said I had saved their lives.
What else could I have done?”

Comment: This is a third hand poem. It came to me from Geoff who heard the story from the hardware store owner who witnessed the fire. The narrator is the anonymous engine driver who raised the alarm. Of course I don’t know exactly what he did, said, or thought. Our knowledge of history can be divided into two great moments: the momentous events, recorded by expert historians via diligent research, and intra-historia, as Miguel de Unamuno, that great Spanish philosopher and rector of Salamanca University called it, referring to those small, individual moments when history is made by anonymous human beings who did what they had to do and then faded into the anonymity of a distant past, now wrapped in silence, as is the store-keeper and the driver of the train.

IMG_0678 (2).JPG

2 thoughts on “S.O.S

  1. I loved this story, in part because it was third-hand. But the simple, effective act of converting the ‘shapeless’ sound of the engine horn into the clear message: dit dit dit, dah dah dah, dit dit dit, for me was the exhilarating moment. Chuck

    On Sat., Jun. 8, 2019, 1:36 a.m. rogermoorepoet, wrote:

    > rogermoorepoet posted: ” S. O .S. McAdam Railway Station #8 “Dozing in > the cab, I was. Smelt a different smoke. It wasn’t my engine’s. Looked > around. Saw flames. One, two, three houses on fire. Steam was up. Yessir. > Three short hoots I gave. Three long. Three short. ” >

    Like

    • That’s great, Chuck. Thank you. There are some memories in the story, but a lot of invention too. I guess in the oral tradition tales are often twisted out of shape. The original meaning is kept but the details are embellished and words are polished while the essentials are kept. I know I often change my poems as I read them. Sometimes this is by accident, more often by design to keep to my speech rhythms. I heard all went well yesterday: Congrats!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s