Notes Toward the TransSiberian Railway
Spinning dust in the train corridor. Sediment forming rocks in nasal cavities. Camels grazing in front of a power plant in the frozen desert. A young man we dubbed Sleeping Beauty, shirt off, lying on his stomach with his face to the wall of the train compartment. On his back a large tattoo of the country of Mongolia with all its aimags outlined. It covers his wingbones.
The horse is the most miraculous animal. Pursed sand dunes, the ebb and flow of power lines. Middle aged women with square cloths over their mouths sleep fitfully on their cots. There is something beyond or inside the relentless need to record. Each of us with a contract if not with the creator than with what we create. Those are specks that were his eyes green and headed from London to Australia without setting foot on an airplane. The girl with good English who sold us a bottle at one of the god abandoned stops. She and her peers held boxes of blue and green rocks. Blue and green glass looking rocks at the ghost town of a railway stop, the desert an ocean.You are here not just to write for others or tell yourself the desert bones aren’t even new to you, ribcages like a piano. They don’t lock the bathrooms when the train jerks to a stop because of stowaways, they lock them because the shit and piss flush directly onto the train tracks. (Do they in California, you wonder, remembering the sundrenched afternoons at Refugio beach wherein you’d burn your bare feet on the tar of the tracks) it is forbidden to take out of china anything related to state secrets, and anything into China that would threaten its culture. Once in China the train lurches for hours while they change the bogeys. The large orange machines go unmanned next to the wheel sets under fluorescent lights in the warehouse while a hard hatted engineer texts on his cell phone. The intricacies are not of water, or any more or less fundamental than that. A calf hops sideways in this new biome we wake up to, red paint and stacks of stalks. I move my toothbrush around in my mouth and the man who patrolled my train car salutes me from the ground. The one who took over motions me to the bathroom to spit. Houses of dirt rise out of the dirt, hobbit houses, corn stalks rounded so that they seem dancers.