The Loneliest of Sounds


One of the loneliest sounds

in the universe may be

the train’s whistle blowing in dark

of mid-winter with low clouds moving

overhead obscuring the sliver of cold

crescent moon peeking through overcast

like a roving eye blinking beneath

the blanket of darkening sky.

The train’s whistle approaches closer

till its soulful call reaches highest pitch

then slowly recedes into the distance.

The train moves away

moves away and leaves me

standing there in darkness

leaves me there in the obscurity

of total alone and listening

to its defining departure

from my station where I stand

enwrapped in awe enveloped by night.


Then, there’s the sound of a thunderstorm

approaching from the distance

getting closer till it’s right there

upon me yet beyond.

Each burst of thunder penetrates

deep into the heart of mind

preceded by bright flash of lightning’s

ephemeral staircase ascending to heaven

spreading wild across the sky

leaving me in wakeful anticipation

listening to distant thunder recede

while the rain beats its path against rooftops

and windows gazing out to the imponderable night.

Lightening silhouettes the limbs

of trees that appear to suddenly jump

forward then leap back again.

And the rooftop shingles glisten with

the fluid measure of the full-bellied storm

clouds advancing like sea waves

expending their wet passions upon

an ever-receptive earthen shore.


Yet, there’s still another lonesome sound

the sound of letting go those grains

of loosened sands of time set free

by too tight a hold upon my life.

Though I may trace the paths

of others who came before

I don’t forsake my own wearied bones

nor regret that all that remains

was not my preferred intention.

In this inevitable encounter

at the place of final confluence

where my river turns to estuary

then blends with ocean tides

I stand transfixed listening

for the long anticipated beckoning call

to finally arrive and carry me to unknown

depths beyond the obscure curvature of horizon

away from this fixed time and place

far from where all words falter

recede into distance

then fade.

Alfredo Quarto is an environmental activist and poet living on an organic farm in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains in Washington. He’s been published in numerous poetry publications including: Poetry Seattle, Catalyst, Raindance Journal, Piedmont Review, Haiku Zashi Zo, Paperbag Poems, Seattle Arts, Spindrift, Arts Focus, Arnazella, Dan River Anthology, Amelia, Americas Review, Vox, Middle House Review, The Closed Eye Open, Elevation Review, Montana Mouthful, and Tidepools.

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