Round Trip · Anatoly Molotkov


You took a train. I took a train. How could
we know where the rails might
bring us? I dreamed I’d reach you in
my lifetime.


Years passed. I had a desk, a chair
in my train car. I didn't leave
the train. Did the train
leave the station?


Out the train window, the house
passed like a dream, yet you
knew: inside those blue walls
you had impossibly lived all

these years – your true self, just miles
away. Should you go back? Your small
room: a desk, a chair, the brown
carpet on the stairs. The fields, a still

life through dirty glass. Your fear
of darkness. And in the evening,
into the fields, up the hill, down
the road, to watch the train.


The train stopped still like death, and through
the open window, endless fields invaded, wrapped
me in. Red barn, lit up with colors, beckoned,
With years, I found a smaller barn inside,

with a small railroad. And through the small
open window, endless fields.


You imagined everything combined, unthinkably
close: my chair, your childhood, my barn, your
fear of darkness, endless fields. Years
passed. I waited for the train whistle. It

never came. I was thinking of you.


The train station once existed, and even if
we arrived free of promise, promise
was given us. Even if our times didn't,
match the place did. The rails were removed while

we lingered. The walls crumbled. The empty treads
reminded us of our reasons. And we
reminded each other about each other. If we
invented the train long ago, we can

invent it again, imagine a new life, ride
away together on bright new rails.


Years passed. When two trains collided, you
and I landed on a soft patch of grass, no more
hurt than others our age. I shared my thoughts
about how this might end. You frowned, Why

should it end?

Born in Russia, A. Molotkov moved to the US in 1990 and switched to writing in English in 1993. His poetry collections are The Catalog of Broken Things, Application of Shadows and Synonyms for Silence. Published by Kenyon, Iowa, Antioch, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Bennington and Tampa Reviews, Pif, Volt, 2 River View and many more, Molotkov has received various fiction and poetry awards and an Oregon Literary Fellowship. His translation of a Chekhov story was included by Knopf in their Everyman Series; his prose is represented by Laura Strachan at Strachan Lit. He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Please visit him at