by A. Molotkov
Don’t go back to sleep.
Windows open, eyes close. Nothing disturbs the dust on the road. Today, the bombs fall elsewhere.
A traveler returns to her hometown after years abroad. Is this really her hometown? Whatever else may happen, I want to share this memory. The traveler walks the streets, stares inquisitively. Only you can help her. You live here. No one else is aware of her arrival. You put down your book and welcome her at the door.
Your lips are a broken door. Unencumbered by solidity, I flow out the water tap, slide past your fingers, wish away the beauty of your wound, a wound I inflicted before regretting it.
You ring, not expecting anyone to open. When the door budges, you are unsurprised to find no one behind it. You explore the multitude of empty rooms. You are the host. You’ve lived here all your life. I will not lie to you inside this imagining. You will die here one day. Any day is one day. You hear the bell.
When the bombing stops, I hope the quiet will remain. You may still exist as a whole – a single being built from compliant atoms. Without a warning, my eyes close. I watch you, hear you, feel you inside this refocusing. Random fire wakes me. Come in quietly, so I believe you are real. The door is open. I am not asleep.
Instruments of light left at the door. You hear the bell.
You long for some breaking and entering. The door is just a point of view. The way here no longer exists. You and I are alone in this envisioning. You are the host. You stretch the corners of your lips with your index fingers until a matching smile emerges in the mirror. Not every door is locked.
I’m mesmerized by your contours. Close the door. I slide past your fingers. The land is out of sight on a frozen map. If only I could be silent here, inside this listening. We trace our own steps on a vast green sheet covered with snow.
When you touch, I touch. Maybe this is not enough. When do we begin if not a lifetime back? The bombing continues. We run away from ourselves. This is not my hometown. These are not my thoughts. Please open the door. These are not my bombs, not my memory.
Any town is hometown. I am not asleep. Whoever you are, I want to be with you inside this remembering.
A. Molotkov, born in Russia, 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 (Acre Books/Cincinnati Review, 2019). He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Please visit him at AMolotkov.com.