The Baltimore Day Express

I left the child with the mother-in-law,
just for a week. My bed was my sister’s sofa,
The coffee on the stove woke me up.
I never slept so well in all my life.
Before I knew it, I was served with papers, called
to court to answer the complaint—grounds of desertion.
They brought in a fellow who said he saw the kid
walking by herself down Baltimore Street on circus day,
with me nowhere in sight.
He said I’d been at breakfast at the Queen City Hotel
with a police sergeant. Another one swore I went camping
in mixed company down at Paw Paw.
Not long after, the judge handed down his order:
Divorce granted to Mister, grounds of desertion.
I didn’t care who knew, talk never bothered me much
but it seemed best to go down to Baltimore. There’d
be plenty of work for me there.
My sister saw me to the train, handed me the lunch
she’d packed, promised she’d watch out for my girl
till the day I got custody back.
From the train window I looked
at the tangle of tracks along Front Street.
The train pushed up the mountain, leaving
Cumberland trapped in the mist.
Dark puffs curled from the factory smokestacks.
I reached into my carpetbag for a magazine,
lost myself in the lives of Chaplin, Pickford,
dozed, their silver images flickering in my dreams.
By nighttime we reached the Mount Clare Station.
You could almost see the heat rise
from the cobblestone streets, the automobiles,
the horse-and-buggies jockeying for the right-of-way.
at my feet, a new city, all mine for the taking.

(c) 2017 Lynne Viti


Originally published in Warren Artists’ Market anthology, This I Know, October 2017







4 thoughts on “The Baltimore Day Express

    1. Hi Toni, The answer is complicated, but it’s embedded in my new/forthcoming poetry collection, The Glamorganshire Bible. The poem is written in the voice of my maternal grandmother, imagining her thoughts as she rode the train to Baltimore, where she would make a new life for herself, at age 23, leaving her young daughter behind after a messy divorce. Thanks for readign adn for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Touched a chord with me… an alcoholic father, divorce, court appearances. a brave mother, a turbulent and indigent childhood, always on the move…

    I know this woman… I know her life.

    You got it just right. As always.


  2. Oh, Lynne. I love this. You have me dying to read the next group of poems in their story-telling form. This is a story that has been in the works for a while,and I think it must now have come together, voices from the past informing us.


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