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SmokeLong Quarterly

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The Sway of Trains

Story by Lydia Copeland (Read author interview) December 16, 2008

Art by Robinson Accola

In bed at night, hearing the last conversations on the street, I’m still moving with the train cars. Still looking in the living rooms of the houses along the tracks. Lights are orange over oil paintings of barns and swallow-filled skies. Potatoes boiling in the air, a hiss of someone’s tongue. You are already in the kitchen, perhaps sorting beans, filling a glass with milk. Our son asks you to be the bear. More, he says, but he means again. In the new town, I think of the bay and the ducks floating asleep. The cups and cans, shoes, jump ropes washing up on the rocks at night. This is our only nature. Some winter we will smooth a path on the street and slide on our stomachs. Under cars. Past the laundry mat where our clothes are folded and numbered. Past the Polish Bakery. Through the long hollow that brings city to city. Blue hands in snow drifts. The sway of trains. The summer water that is long gone. You tell me we must accept these things for a time. We kiss before sleeping, and I taste your salty cheek. Your hands fold under my pillow.

About the Author

Lydia Copeland’s stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Quick Fiction, Pindeldyboz, elimae, Dogzplot, and others. Her chapbook, Haircut Stories, is available from the Achilles Chapbook series and as part of the chapbook collective, Fox Force 5 from Paper Hero Press. She works in Manhattan and lives in New Jersey with her husband and son.

About the Artist

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Three of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Three
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A SmokeLong Summer

May 30-Aug 28!


From May 30 to August 28 2022, SmokeLong is going to host a superworkshop. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our workshops take place on a devoted website where you can create a profile, interact with the flash community, and take part in group discussions on craft, but A SmokeLong Summer will be much more.