The Nancy Hanks

Author(s) : Michael L. Ruffin,
poetry, issue-three

The Nancy Hanks
stopped running in 1971.

I was twelve.

The Nancy Hanks was a passenger train that
went from Savannah to Atlanta and back.
Every day.
Going and coming, it stopped
in our town.

We’d be riding through town,
Mama driving.
The train would be at the depot,
taking on and letting off.
She’d say, “One of these days, we’ll take the Nancy Hanks
to Griffin. Maybe Atlanta.”
If she said it once, she said it a hundred times.

We never did.

It wasn’t the only thing she said we’d do
that we never got around to.

There was being honest and open with each other.
About what was going on with me.
About what was going on with her.

I regret that we never took the Nancy Hanks.
I regret that we never took time to open up to each other.

Sometimes I wish I’d done better.
Sometimes I wish I’d have said, “Let’s talk.”

Then again, she was the adult.
She should have bought the tickets.


Michael L. Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher, and teacher living and working in Georgia. He posts poems on Instagram (@michaell.ruffin) and prose opinions at On the Jericho Road. He is author of Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life and of the forthcoming Praying with Matthew. His poetry has appeared at The New Verse News, 3 Moon Magazine, and Rat’s Ass Review.