Answering Darlene Howard’s snotty dare,
I hoisted myself up to the handrail,
as thick as a balance beam, but slick
with summer rain and wet rust.
Knees bent, arms out to my sides,
I straightened, chin up, staring ahead.
Kicking off my sandals, I took
my first tentative steps, peeling corrosion
sticking to my skin, the creak of old hinges
swaying in my ears. Slipping, I landed
on one knee, catching myself
before falling. Later, someone told me
kids watching from below all gasped,
and then cheered and clapped.
I should have heard them. But I didn’t.
All I heard was rattling and a low rumble
as if these tracks abandoned for years,
were ready, once again, to carry a train.
Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.