The Railroad Died Here BY Travis Truax The railroad died here in the yellow land of grass and distance. The sky swallowed waving brakemen over each rise like something dropped in water. At the depots passengers used to write home saying they missed the old farm and grandpa but the land was kind enough to remember most things forever. Wagon ruts cut across Nebraska mean: someone has made it this far, someone’s moving against odds with hope, and someone’s heart is less heavy because of that river. Where it braids across the prairie luck lives and dies. West is the direction of loss. Opportunity is three mountain ranges away. Getting there is a trek of patience and pain. The voices out here begin as storm clouds. They end in the silence between coyote howls. The world this land holds doesn’t rust, wear, or smear. The sky is an open hand full of blue flowers. Days are ceremonies of progress and time. The plowed land cracks like a father’s smile and floods like love when the distant rains come.