The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Conversation on a Train

A difficult but important conversation across a deep divide

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Elizabeth Alexander

Available in Summer 2024!

A difficult but important conversation across a deep divide.

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Conversation on a Train

Bright and early we assembled with our homemade signs,
Facing off across the courthouse lawn.
With a true and righteous pen we drew our battle lines,
And locking eyes, we knew the fight was on.
Women, children, God and country, bodies, rights and sin,
Certainty roughcast in iron will.
Still I couldn’t help but notice as the clouds rolled in,
You look a little like my cousin Jill.

I considered standing when I saw you on this train,
Sitting by the only empty seat.
But I walked a mile to get here in this pouring rain.
And couldn’t wait to get off of my feet.
We’ve been riding half an hour now, trying not to touch,
Well aware we’ve got no common ground.
But I’m just as weary of this silent, angry clutch
As of all the fury and the sound…
I might as well break down.

None of us expected such a downpour. Can we agree on that?
Not the weather we came into town for. Can we agree on that?
Here’s a picture of my youngest boy, he just turned three last May,
Getting all dressed up in daddy’s shoes and hat.
I wish every child could know such love and laughter. Can we agree on that?

Everyone should have a job that feeds them. Can we agree on that?
And a sense of right and wrong that leads them. Yes, let’s agree on that?
If you ask a dozen women why they wouldn’t want a child,
And ten of them say “Where’s the money at?”
I suspect that’s something both of us find troubling. Can we agree on that?

When the howling of the wolf drowns out every other voice,
The miracle of life brings little reason to rejoice.
Oh that ain’t not kind of life, and Lord have mercy, that’s no choice –
Can we agree this is not how things ought to be?

Tearing down each other leads us nowhere. Can we agree on that?
And we both love life, so let’s not go there. Can we agree on that?
We can hem and haw and hammer, we can legislate and ban,
We can fan the flames of this unholy spat.
Or for once we could be listening more than shouting.
Can we agree on that?

© 2022 by Elizabeth Alexander