230 KM/HR
by Sebastian Ward

there are twelve cattle gathered around a water tank an hour south of madrid my train speeds needlessly
scanning stout olive trees
electric pink graffiti beneath a bridge
its words, ballooning jargon to all but whoever wrote them

there’s an impressive tenacity in scrawling your personal language
in hot pink cotton candy, blue suede aura
on a stone only visible to passing trains and olive trees
the words are ten feet high
i can only imagine that it took two teenagers, one on the other’s shoulders bored and sweating in spanish summer
the necessary extremes of focus before the tracks rattle, send them running for the cities

the young people here all say “vále”
like it lives where silence normally would
like it is a prayer, some kind of hope
when we were young we too walked the train tracks and wondered
“how hard is it really to hop a car?”
we collected flattened pennies between the beams, stuffed them into dirty trousers if we walked far enough, maybe our pockets would anchor anywhere weighed down with coins and stones and “vále” and
a future we’d been waiting for

staring down at the track between granada and madrid, i know i put the future somewhere but my pockets are empty
someone shakes a spray paint can and I wonder how hard it would be to hop a car or maybe just paint my name along the side while it stood still
kiss the grease streaked steel, whisper “vále” into the container door

Sebastian Ward graduated from Hampshire College with a thesis in the field of religious studies. He currently lives, works, and writes in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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