The Switchman’s Lamp

Author Photo
By Alfred Wernham | Sep 1, 1997

PO Box 1537, Hornepayne, Ontario, Canada P0M 1ZO

Yesterday I bought a Switchman’s Lamp upon reflection I
thought how it served, guiding one way Then the next, countless
trains direction.

My boyhood and the age of steam passed one another Upon starry,
quiet summer evenings of distant youth, when… From the bed
I’d be called and changed forever By the eerie wail of whistle
and the engines roar. Our farm’s horizon slashed by a knife
edged light, Transfixed I peered its beam shrinking eastward

Leading a black line of billowing shadows through the night And
was gone….

By the Switchman’s lamp she found her way Trailing the heart
beat sound of wheel upon rail Betraying her living soul as she
passed by night or day.

By the Switchman’s lamp, how many homecomings had she seen
Of sons and daughters returning, or the leave taking Of soldiers
early call never to know what might have been.

I’m grateful to the light that guided every train.

It hurts to think the gentle giants who shouldered commerce

Worldly care, will with living fury never again

Temper the fields, mountains or prairies still waiting

Sometimes progress really isn’t.

And the things we learn from most, often give us pain How I
yearn to hear that long whistle blow again!

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