Novgorod Sidings

by Anne-Marie Fyfe

Virtual snow on the line, a starry

damask night, the train quits

the virtual station. Wellwishers

gather on the cinderpath. Knowing

 

how to say goodbye. Passengers

with tall hats in half windows alight

in the opening pages. A red signal

power-cut lasts an entire chapter.

 

But the couple are true; emerge from

lost strands. There is grey in her hair

now, cologne hangs in the lull

of stale compartments. Destination,

 

their long-shut summer-house. He carries

her portmanteau in one hand, an octave

mandola in the other. No need

of words. Luggage racks cleared,

 

supper-coach wicks snuffed. Unlit

factories, grain-stores, mosques dissolve

in the filter of darkness, past telegraph

poles, a lone traveller on a snow-stormed

 

bridge, isolated railroad hostels.

He notices she’s lost an earring, one freshwater

pearl. A single motif. The rest is non-

linear and poorly focused. The engine

 

slows at the first tunnel, erases carriage

after relentless carriage from the frame.