Cultural Atlas: White Skirt on the Train

In looking at experiences that are culturally specific to my life in Italy, there is the train…a marker, something utterly distinct from transport in Texas by car. I chose the light moving across the surface of a white linen skirt in an attempt to localize the sensory experience of being on the train to a specific focal point.

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.


  1. Ahhh. Trains have played a central role in my life experience – both in Australia and in Canada. I’d certainly agree they’ve acted as a marker. Much like the combined scent of frangipanni and sea-salt, or as you say, light moving across the surface of a white linen skirt, they trigger all sorts of reponses and memories for me.

    1. Dear Brad, thanks for watching. I still remember your piece about the flood and the train, it was quite powerful…I recognized the reference in a more recent post of yours. “Sleepers” …a loaded word.
      For me trains were an acquired language from adulthood. Something from my mother’s stories that I understood at 16 when I first traveled in Italy.
      When I was little they belonged to the realm of freight, waiting at the crossing in the car with my mother to see the red caboose and hoping that there would be a ‘caboose-man’ who would respond to the frenetic waving hands of my sister and I as the train passed.
      When older, the sound of the freight whistle a distant tone across an insomniac night. Now I live above a station. The sound of the first commuter train of the morning traveling towards Milan tells me that the church clock tower will ring in 15 min…anomalous analogue signals of time’s passage in the world of blinking, decimal time.

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