The Train

For the first time ever, today I stood at the front of the commuter train - many tons of steel hurtling toward San Francisco, carrying hundreds of sleepy passengers on a busy early Monday morning. The engine is at the back of the train, so the front has a window from which I could see the world go rushing by.

I was admiring the speed and power of this human invention, this fast, sturdy train, the heady blur at which the landscape streamed past.

Suddenly, I saw, just up ahead on the tracks, a little flock of four or five birds rise up, while the wondrous train hurtled obliviously toward them.

One of the birds made the error of flying toward the train.

Then I didn't see it any more.

I peered down through the window and saw the poor thing on the little step at the front of the train; it was quite dead, on its back - a yellow-breasted bird, feathers ruffled, eyes wide in shock, as if to say:

What is this strange loud thing that cut short my life?
What is this strange, monstrous iron contraption?
What happened to my flock, my family, my friends?
Did they live?
Will they be OK without me?

Then we entered a tunnel, and the swirling currents of air swept clean the front of the train.

There was no sign of the little tragedy by the time we reached the station.

I was left to wonder, how many other little accidents happen, with our grubby technological fingerprints all over this planet?

When can an innocent flock of some kind of pretty, yellow-breasted bird, be able to rest safely on this Earth?

What price our mad, technological rush, our "need for speed," our love of mechanical power?

I realize there's likely nothing we can do in the short run. But we can think and pray, and perhaps someday, each of us will make choices that affect the Earth for better or for worse. And I will remember a yellow-breasted bird, an innocent casualty of an inadvertent and unintended, but yet troubling, little tiny tragedy on the train tracks to San Francisco.

Copyright Eri Izawa 2005.

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