I have a ticket in my pocket that will take me from Lynchburg
to New York in nine hours, from the Blue Ridge to Stuy Town,
from blue jays wrangling over sunflower seeds to my alarm
clock and startled pigeons. If I had a daughter I'd take her
with me. She'd sit by the window wearing the blue dress
with the stars and sickle moons, counting houses and cemeteries,
watching the knotted rope of fence posts slip by while I sat
beside her pretending to read, but unable to stop studying
her in disbelief. Her name would tell her that she's beautiful.
Belle. Or something strong, biblical. Sarah. She would tolerate
the blue jay and weep for the pigeon; she would have all the music
she wanted and always the seat by the window. If I had a daughter
she would know who her father is and he would be home writing letters
or playing the banjo, waiting for us, and I would be her mother.
We'd have a dog, a mutt, a stray we took in from the rain one night
in November, the only stray we ever had to take in, one night in our
cabin in the Catskills. It would be impossibly simple: two train tickets;
a man, a dog, waiting; and a girl with her nose pressed to the window.