The trains pass by on some schedule all their own, and as I drowse or sleepily read by the single light beside my bed, at first on the edge of hearing a vague rumble comes. This grows, into the churning sound of diesel growl, metal wheels ringing on the rails, and a thousand clacks like monstrous and rhythmic insects.
Then comes the wail. And again. Growing louder and louder, and again, and then so close you could touch it, it begins to grow faint, and changes in subtle timbre, and then fades away as it came.
Strange. It would seem I’d hear the same wail night after night. They must use the same great engines. Wouldn’t the train’s whistle sound the same?
But no. As the train blows its whistle — to warn the cars ahead in the crossings — it seems that every train’s voice is different. Some moan. Some shriek. Some beep long and hollow. Others wail.
An infinitude of voices, each one alone, shrieking in the night. A warning, jarring and sweet, above the roar of life, and then fading away.