I just finished creating a personal art book completely by hand. It contains photos, postcards, prose & poetry. This project took more than a year of composing texts, selecting and organizing materials, and even hand-coloring pages and figuring out glues.
I was inspired by Trainman grandfather (dining car conductor for Canadian Rail) & amazing grandmother who was left to raise and move five children from New York to Canada and finally to Chicago.
The postcards are from Grandpa to Grandma during the early 20th century.
Sometimes, behind the skin of the wall, she finds the Trainman.
He rode the rails to Canada in 1906:
New York to Ontario, Toronto to Winnepeg, Calgary to Vancouver.
Did he have hobo dreams?
He writes postcards to his wife:
A detour in Montreal, a wash-out near Fort Nelson;
a quick shave, a layover in Portage LaPrairie.
“Hoping you and kiddies are well and full of prunes.”
The granddaughter peels layers of memory, travels to what is behind her:
The bleat of a train horn echoing beyond the Illinois cornfield
where she wandered as a girl;
the clatter of cars on the track clack clacking away
as she watched amid the withered maize.
Was it the Trainman who tracked her arteries,
jangled her bones as she glimpsed the red caboose
wobble away to grown-up destinations?
If she were to go behind the skin of her cheek;
if she were to swab for DNA, test her cells, peel away a pattern –
what would she find on her maternal track?
Nothing pressed her to do this.
She had a fondness for mystery.