Union Station, St. Louis, 1964

Bill Lyons

I help my mother up the steps
to the passenger train, whites
in the left car, blacks in the right car,
on their own.

At the top of the steps, I turn right,
not looking to see if she is following.
She slows but moves towards me.
The people in the car stop talking.

I show her to a seat, give her a hug,
tell her to have a good trip home.
She smiles at me, a smile I have
never seen, a smile that says
oh bill please don't.

(First published in "AURA Literary Arts Review," University of Alabama at Birmingham, Spring 2003. Bill Lyons is a retired educator who formerly taught in the Iowa City Community School District in Iowa City, IA.)