His Brother’s Ghost

My father rides a train to visit his
brother’s ghost.
This time he rides alone, without
a joking wall of friends.

Light from the window falls on his book,
a small, green volume of Schiller’s poems:

“Who rides so fast through rain
and wind?”

Across the aisle a woman
in a grey cloth hat, eyes frozen
into skating ponds.
Her iridescent blouse worries him –

a lizard’s skin dangling from a clothesline
or the inside of an oyster shell dropped

in a garden plot. His throat burns
and he feels his mother’s presence

in the small compartment.
Thin and sad she becomes a nightingale
caught in webs of moon.
he walks to the club car for a beer, downs

it in one pull, has another and gropes his way
back to where his brother’s ghost waits,

holding diamonds and weeping
a lullaby of dust and tears and shining stones.