Taking the Ice Line

by Pat Winslow

Each train is announced by its porcelain tinkle. The glow in the tunnel expands to a blue-white gleam. Inside the capsule, the seats are wet. The floor is slippy and dangerous. In some towns, guards throw buckets of sand in at every stop. Here, we pride ourselves on a pristine look and lower the temperature. It is forbidden to wear outdoor shoes. Plastic over-socks must be worn and clothes that shed fibres must be covered. The Apparel Inspector’s store is full of faux fur. Woollen gloves are arranged like trophy birds in display cabinets. We don’t talk when we commute. We keep our warmth to ourselves and bury our chins. Outside, above ground, it is glorious spring. At Guilders End, when the train terminates, just after the climb into green brilliance, we put on sunglasses and leave quickly in the seconds it takes a driver to run down the platform to the other cab and close the doors. Our walk to work is dazzled by cherry blossom. We are barely aware of the trembling earth.