rae hoffman jager

Train Nigun1

Do you remember, sis, how afraid
I was when the trains braked
behind our house late at night—
engines screaming like a girl dragged
by her hair down the lightless track?
I’d sustain a loud hum over that noise,
while I rocked myself back to sleep, or tried,
a sound to keep me company for as long
as my lungs could hold air or until dad
appeared in the doorway, 
his hands black with car guts. 
Sometimes you’d be awake to witness
his face in the smudged dark, his voice
as he yelled at me to shut the hell up,
and my prayer—muted by the suburban
song of un-rescue.

1 A Nigun is a melody or tune, without lyrics,
that is hummed or sang as a prayer of joy or lament.


Rae Hoffman Jager is the author of One Throne (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in print and online journals like Ambit, Arsenic Lobster, and Rise Up Review, to name a few. Her work has been described as rambunctious, urgent, funny, and elegiac. Rae holds a BA from Warren Wilson College and an MFA from Wichita State University. When she is not writing or reading poems for Rivet Journal, she can be found staring out of windows. For more information, you can visit her website at www.raehoffmanjager.com.