Two Poems – A. Molotkov



if I take the jar inside

the water will spill

but how do I know this?


I forgot my own future

when I became engulfed in you

so much darkness

outside your well-lit room

I remain in the dark


if you let me shiver at the door

and freeze to death

as the jar freezes


I will be

your truest love

your empty stranger


if you take me home

let it be my home


I study longing


silence is the sea

we glide on uninterpreted


I remember thinking that

before I emptied my thoughts

into you


we can talk about the jar

and fall asleep

before the snow starts


I’d suspected myself all along. I deserve the harshest punishment available to me in my paralyzed state. I hope to extinguish my every hope. Your compass leads me through my imagined life. The difference between true and false is optional. I hold the jar.


if I were the one who waits

I’d let you in and tell you to flee


you’d lose your compass

and your watch


if you stay

so much ice awaits

so much snow


if I let you shiver at the door

you will spend your last minutes

thinking of a story to tell


I’ll wait inside

for your memories to freeze


if you left your home at dawn

I’d make wrong assumptions


but what’s the difference

if your watch says it’s noon

and it’s


already midnight?


one more dream by your side

would release the spell


my empty self

my selfless struggle


if you tell this story

I will leave enriched

with a full jar


My questions are irrelevant. Still, it’s better to ask, not to answer. My hair is wet from the snow. Your image turns me into an afterthought, the wind shreds me. The streetlights are silent, the city old. The buildings are unoccupied until proven otherwise. I remain outside even when I go in. I write letters to you on a poppy blossom, on a falling leaf. I dig a mass grave for questions.


if your compass pointed up

and said north

you would have to float


if the room is dim

and the evidence buried

under layers of dust


my fingerprints on the jar

expect my fingers


if I play my part

you may play yours


and let the water

spill unpunished

I’ll                       be                         the                                 jar


if the hands of your watch

were amputated


I would still myself as well


I would keep our date

stuck in amber


I’d be there first



if you listened by the door

for my final breath


I’d welcome you

into my private afterlife

like a verdict


A thought is not enough. Your absence excuses itself. I touch your hand in my memory. My memory retrieves your face. You smile. You are well-remembered. Do you really look like you? You don’t answer.


if I leave the jar outside

as an afterthought

you will keep your eyes closed


like a question


if the room is dim

it’s harder not to feel

the missing parts


missing chances

if you stayed

so much water in store for us

so little air


if you let me shiver at your feet

as my bloodless lips

struggle to express me


I will be your truest self

your perfect stranger


if I asked you to wait

your patience would be broken


I would steal your watch

break your compass


if your distance

is longer than your life

I will be content

in my role


a wrong turn

imagined by you


as the ice in the jar

melts before my body

thaws out


I take small sips from the jar. With each sip, the ending draws closer. Every absence is a presence elsewhere. I take the small boat out to sea. As the tide slides me towards the open ocean, it’s clear there will be no return. I welcome this understanding without panic. Have I known all along? Did I get out of bed so my life may end? The ocean is sad. Your ashes in the jar respect my fingers.


if I spent my final days

thinking of a story to tell


your silence

would be my reference


moments struggle with miles

when we thirst for time’s

best expression


if the jar were too heavy

to bring inside

my memory would perish


my love   my hopes

my tiny presence


would not convince you


I’d wait

imagining winter




dreaming of a full jar



Time and Absence


eighteen people died as I wrote this line

may someone remember them


let’s count silences

let’s share absence


on the vast snow field

of life’s empty page

our words

are grains of sand


how much sand does it take

to defeat entropy?


and yet

we are a story

that took fourteen billion years

to write itself


and I wonder

about all that sand

all that snow


I wrap myself in a cloud

and float away

like that kiss from years ago


nothing bothers me


the silence empties itself

into the cup of your hand –

and time is useless


when nothing remains

I wrap myself in a cloud

and float




I’m a map


I’m a memory

I’m a life


I’m a meaning


have a chance

to rust

have a nice go with it

let your molecules


release control


there will be more of you

more of everyone


let time envelop you

swallow you


release your atoms

exchange thoughts

with laughing water drops


as you acquire color


celebrate silence

remain cheerful


as you disappear


a melody

doesn’t exist all at once

we hear a memory

enjoy an absence


we pretend that the past

is a living reference


that the moments

comprising our lives

make sense as a whole


that a note ago

we were the same


that a song

feels our presence


that a chord

struck at birth

still rings true when we die


we believe that a melody

remembers us



knock the world off its feet

as if everything

is too late


the smell of absence


why do I think my eyes

are the right ones


no matter the distance?


too late to change your life

at your age?

too late for anything?


let’s be silent


can I exchange my thoughts for yours?


the wolves are in the kitchen

when mysteries dissolve into promises

what is left?


why should my voice

be the right one


no matter the silence?


let me carry your bags

through the mirror

and through history


until dawn

do us part


and then I step out of my mind

and sense the sadness

your lip twitching just so


that crow on my back

begins to sing

to its own definition of music

and the weight of time on my eyes



I stretch my arms towards you

and in the distance between

I find a mirror

in which our reflections

can laugh at themselves


my absence

is a ticket

for your memories


like a story that struggles

to complete itself


I remember everything you didn’t say


let me think of you

on each page

all at once


not moment by moment


do I need your permission

to witness you?

do you need mine?


we are born



empty moments

turn me on the corner of my being

as I stop to consider

the possibility of being absent


it is the absences

that slide sadly through time

as if memories

were transparent


let me empty myself as well

so I can pass

through the eye

of the missing needle


that stiches the past and the future together

in this transparent moment


escape slowly

like wind from a bottle


the word is not afraid

and neither is the light


if distances

are longer than we thought

you should not collapse


get your folded life

in line

for your birthday


you must match


you don’t understand


listen and speak

when you hear silence


spark if you can spark


let me hear you


when I step outside

let me be alone


let me be with you


I last saw my mother

seven years ago

at the airport

a receding figure

there…there…gone…reemerging for a second…



in darkness

in silence

we can establish

if it is all worth it

if the past is worth the future

and vice versa


it’s easy to imagine

myself in her place


I cooked her a meal one morning

fried bologna and potatoes

she used to make me when I

was a child

and now

with mortality in mind

I replayed the gesture


each time we make a choice

we are closer to the moment

when we have no choices left


years receding

summers disappearing

without a trace


the only place

she lives



the only gift

I can give her


in my worst case scenario

the wolves are in the kitchen

the candle is lit


in my worst case scenario

we have a fight

then one of us dies


in my worst case scenario

I wake up

and nothing is ready for the day


and there is no day


in my worst case scenario

the freeway comes to an end


but you don’t notice


you will keep driving

for as long as I remember you


may your trip be long


drift drift

let the world imagine you



loves you

all life long

but has no part of you


a memory

of silence


of mysteries


a rainbow

of darkness



you wanted desperately

is not in your life


let the world drift through you

as it chooses its stories


if I had access

to my body

I would dance

a slow dance

with myself

to remind me

that even shadows sleep


even shadows dream


every night

I sleep with my shadow


if my body inquired

“who are you?”

I would respond:


I remember how it was

before I had weight


we used to share our days

but in this afterlife

it’s harder to keep in touch


on my map

the past is on the left

future on the right

I must be careful

to avoid spoilers


the scale of my map

is subject to my mood

at each moment


you might have to drive twelve thousand miles

to cross an hour


green lines

are for living memories

red lines

for dead ones


large bodies of blue

for destinies being conceived

and collapsing

into their own



large bodies of white

for those of us

still asleep


missing lines

for your thoughts


dotted lines

for absence


marveling at the possibility

of gravity

I step carefully

in case my feet touch the ground


if this air contained oxygen

I would breathe


if I remembered myself

I would be less stunningly absent


last time we met

you were a dead body


a bird

out to sea

exceeds speed limit

dies for distance


if the sea held water

I would emerge as a dolphin

watch myself from above

as a crow


if I were here

I would fill the void

of my body


listen make me listen

to be


I don’t know you

let me stay

let me imagine you

from a distance


disappear in light

like so many fading suns


in silence


memory in melting

death in promise

hope in melody


if whispers could touch your skin

I’d bathe you

in a lullaby


tell me all you know

in one sentence


I unfold the ocean

and let it spread

over the table


the future

doesn’t bother me


you are floating there

on a boat

too small to see

I become one of those

who watch you from the distance


let me know if the years we have

are enough for us


can I express absence

more vividly

than by keeping silent?


I fold the distance in half

and then in half again

until you’re close


I stay awake

while you answer


I close the door behind you

but I’m the one outside


I change my mind

there is more to say

but the brass door handle

breaks off in my hand


childhood cat at my feet

no longer blind

smooth shiny fur

as if time fixed what it breaks


my body

neatly refurbished

cured of wrinkles and small pains


the cat walks away

next to my younger figure

I watch them disappear


I don’t notice my absence


unlock the distance

let the wolves escape

from your kitchen


the word is not afraid

and neither is the light


let my shadow

fall upon your face

but only briefly


water keeps flowing

through your thoughts

like dying



is absence measured in time

or indifference?

does the crow on your back

sing for you

or those you left behind?


you are a witness

to some of my life

I don’t know you


will you kindly finish

my story?


unlock the silence

there are no wolves

it was just something

I said


the sand

the snow

I draw a few continents

on a paper napkin

and those who live there

don’t realize how flimsy their ground is


can you refresh all my memories

at once?


can everything explode

in slow motion?


say nothing in my mind

keep your distance


in my worst case scenario
I die
as I write this last word


whisper me into space

I want the darkness

of galaxies

to converge on me


list my name

in a catalog of falling stars

on a page

whose number

is unimaginable


I insist on being a part

of an infinite queue of digits

I demand a microscopic space

within the rain of light years


make me a smiling atom

hiding in a friendly molecule


remember me into darkness

imagine me into silence



Selections from “Time and Absence” published by 2 River View, The Neglected Ratio, Connotation Press, Unshod Quills and Verseweavers.