Passing the Telegraph

Clouds open over the line
and fires burn somewhere across the flat topography.
We are crawling through the snow like an endless hunk of metal.
When we get there I will have nothing to tell you.
Only that along the way we were seated in carriage number five,
drew breath through the door that would not shut completely
and drank beers with a girl from Peter.

Trees continue across the plain.
It’s deep out there in the space between us.
A dog lay down on the platform at Tver
and maybe on kinder days was fed sausage by old ladies.
It’s harder now to look into peoples eyes
and reprimand them for having left
another living thing half dead and alone.

Bursts of daylight exhausted like neon explosions.
Night falls past the silent tapping of telegraph poles.
Having sold themselves across the Empire,
the women of the Kavkaz gather up their bags
and sit for a while beneath fluorescent lights.
Fires are burning somewhere on the flats;
we are waiting for the station to take us in.

(from Lost Republics, Salmon Poetry, 2008)

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