There’s something desperate about trains…
I stood alone on the icy platform,
lost in the Bashkir steppes.
What can be more fantastic, more desolate
than the light of an electric lamp
rocking in a small station at night?
Trains swept past from time to time.
Their roar engulfed me,
I was submerged in coal dust,
and each time, I grabbed hold of my cap –
it looked as though I was greeting someone.
The bare, stunted tree by the side of the platform
reached out after them…
I waited for one train at least
to stop, for God’s sake!
In the distance was the dark forest mass.
I lifted my head –
over me, a vast
host of stars:
armies of stars,
all bound for somewhere.
An hour earlier, I’d got out of the train
to fetch some boiling water…
I could be court-martialled for this.
I stood there,
the snow melted round my boots,
and the water in the aluminium kettle I was holding
had already iced over.
Above the forest mass I saw
a little star,
fallen a long way behind the others.
I looked at it
and it looked at me.
by Евгений Михайлович Винокуров (Yevgeny Mikhailovich Vinokurov)
translated by Daniel Weissbort