Gemini Magazine
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Patrick Pfister is the author of two books:
Pilgrimage: Tales from the Open Road, and Over
Sand & Sea. His stories have appeared in various
literary magazines and “Travelers’ Tales”
anthologies, including Best Travel Writing 2007. His
poetry currently appears or is forthcoming in
Pearl, Juked, Blue Earth Review and elsewhere.
No palace on wheels, no bullet,
lightning or cannonball express,
just an old rattler out of the Punjab,
heading deep into Mother India.

As we roll into monsoon darkness
the ceiling fan thumps
like a nagging thought
and devotees in 3rd Class chant
Om  Shanti  Om

No landmarks, no monuments,
no tree on the horizon,
just a train trundling down a track
through Ambala, Delhi, Agra,
past sacred cows and carrion crows,
past temple lights winking in the night.

Thoughts, always more thoughts,
like scorpion-stung monkeys
swinging from the fan blades,
or like the long line of
chai sellers
marching through the coach
followed by pilgrims, porters, beggars
always more beggars
and devotees who chant
Om  Shanti  Om

No switchback, no turnout,
no terminus in sight,
so on we rattle and sway
through Nagpur, Raipur, Naraka

fan blades, thoughts, boxcars
while devotees chant
Om  Shanti  Om  Shanti  Om
by Patrick Pfister
SUBCONTINENT
TRAIN