Orphan Girl


Artist’s Statement: After my husband and I lost our home, we moved to an industrial neighborhood near the train yard. I had never lived so close to trains, and I had to adapt to their constant presence, their constant noise. Daily walks with my dog required the crossing of two bridges over the tracks where I often stopped to watch the trains. Sometimes they were coupling. Sometimes pulling to roll. The sound of both was the loudest sound I’ve ever heard. If the train was long enough, I could hear the wave begin deep in Hellgate Canyon, the east-facing entrance into my valley home. It approached like a tide, shimmering through the cars until it passed under my feet and halted in a shattering boom. Most of these trains were coal trains from the Powder River Basin, the coal en route to China via Seattle. As I stood on the bridge, I felt a sense of timelessness. The trains themselves were endless and enduring, stretching deep into the history of the extraction economies of the West: gold, silver, copper, timber, coal. Orphan Girl is a piece I wrote as a meditation on this history. The film came later. It took a year to amass the photos and videos I shot on my walks to work. The soundtrack is original, right down to the boom I had to recreate because the actual boom was too loud for my microphone to capture. My phone was the only device I used to create the film.


About Author


Naomi Kimbell earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, and her work has appeared in The RumpusThe Nervous BreakdownCrazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, CalyxThe Sonder Reivew, The Iowa Review, and other literary journals and anthologies. When she’s not writing, she teaches online creative writing classes for WOW! Women on Writing and sometimes wanders in the woods, across hillsides, through ghost towns, taking photographs and shooting video to create impressionistic films with ambient scores using her essays, invented landscapes, and found sounds.

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