A Poem by Julia Schroers
June 14, 2022
On the five hour train ride
In the four person seating section
Beside my mother and brother and I
Sits a very important man with a very important job and
stone marbled gray hair and
a large container of papaya.
He has one child-a daughter in college- who he speaks about in the way someone who has
never had a houseplant before carries it: with breath held and eyes wide.
She is in college but when she was little she was such a great child to travel with, because she
would sleep on trains-
He slides himself closer to the window and taps a stoney finger against the throbbing seat of the
Is shy and
Makes a joke about himself
And offers us pieces of papaya.
The important man lives alone, he has big windows he tells us,
Big windows and an empty house,
And lots of extra papaya and only the housekeeper to talk to,
The housekeeper who saved up all her money from cleaning the big empty house to
Visit her bloodstained one, the house of her mother, in a wartorn motherland,
And she got all excited and visited the cratered streets,
only to get trapped between the bombs and
Sent the important man into a frenzy, calling up the ambassadors and other important people
and stayed up three nights until he got the housekeeper out of the bullets and-
He smiles- she arrives back to clean and to
Talk to him.
The train rocks rhythmically:
He offers us a piece of papaya, a piece of a joke,
A piece something from the loneliest corners of his empty house,
A few unimportant, rusted words of conversation.