Quakertown Trolley, est. 1898
Rebecca Beardsall

My dad—a boy at seven—rode the Quakertown Trolley
to Norristown with his father to visit Grandpop
who was locked away at the Norristown State Hospital.
When they couldn’t tell the difference between dementia
and insanity. A boy, a father, moving to madness.

Green, one-inch-mown lawns and white sidewalks
marked my street in Quakertown.
A block long 12th Street hidden between Juniper and Broad.
Mixed among single homes a mysterious
dismantled trolley barn rebuilt into a fourplex.

1966 my parents bought their quarter of the trolley barn.
Walkway, where the two trolley barns met, was cool, dark,
spider web draped. It led to our basement’s wooden door.
It smelled like a cave—wet stone… The single
lightbulb never vanquished the loneliness.
My claustrophobia blossomed—stuck, sequestered.

Number two, Pop-pop said to his second born,
if this house ever blows away, I want to see it. Look at this beam.
A painted Coca-Cola girl, white bikini and sunglasses
laughed on a large beam running under my bed.
Our house remained, but I left one summer day in a dash
through a thunderstorm. I wasn’t coming back this time.
Engagement ring enclosed in my carry-on and
my boxes of books were on a boat to New Zealand.

Farewell, little blue house with a pink dogwood.
Good-bye windows propped open with wooden
rulers. See ya, basement of ribbons of rivers
each time it rained. You, my little trolley house,
taught me what it means to be rooted, but not stuck.

Rebecca Beardsall is the Senior Director of Marketing, Publishing, and Conferences for Extended Education at Western Washington University. She also teaches part-time for the English Department at DeSales University. She graduated with a BA in English from DeSales University and received her MA in English from Lehigh University. Rebecca is an MFA candidate at Western Washington University. She has more than twenty years’ experience in freelance writing in the United States and abroad. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Origyns, Amaranth, Common Ground Review, Poetry NZ, and Rag Queen Periodical. She wrote and co-edited three books, including Philadelphia Reflections: Stories from the Delaware to the Schuylkill.