Olga’s Winter Journey

It was winter and snow at the station.

A moment it was, just a moment we shared,
nothing compared with eternity really,
fate decided we should share this train, together.
Or was it nothing like that, just two passengers
boarding? It could have been anyone. I took out my book.

I read Solzhenitsyn, well I gave it a try,
as the white window views passed by us.
You watched me, and took the book
and you hold my hand for a moment to show
a phrase on a page in the Russian translation.

The words went above me, beyond language
as I listened how you read them out loud.
Heavy, reverberating, deep, your voice told me
of lonesome landscapes, depression, war,
or whatever it meant, in rhyming verses,
while the train approvingly, comforting, commented
with every vowelless Russian syllable.

I didn’t ask for your name, but you gave it away,
as you and the writer shared it, you claimed.
I pronounced it, and you smiled.
“You should be called Olga,” you said,
a name I didn’t particularly like.
I laughed instead of asking why.

We shared your bread and half a bottle of wine,
and when you had reached your destination,
we just looked at each other.
You wanted to say something
but didn’t. Still being strangers
we parted without a goodbye.

When the train left the station,
you still stood there though;
a black monument of loneliness
lost in the pain of the snow,
raising your hand, and we waved.

Nothing changed, but everything was different
in the way I would think about the name Olga in future.

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Comments on: "Olga’s Winter Journey" (22)

  1. I like the prose poem and most of all for keeping the naturalness of two having to share a confined space,- and at the end it is carried over in the way the name Olga will mean to you is consistent. Beautifully restrained. Thanks.

    • Hi Benny, thank you very much for such a lovely comment 🙂 This is a true story btw, but it happend a very long time ago, in the days Solzhenitsyn was (about to be) kicked out of the USSR. I was determined to read his work, but probably too young and too impatient lol.

  2. Fascinating and imaginative, touching and sensitive. You capture the feeling of Russian landscapes and the country’s tragic past perfectly, I feel; that sense of wide open spaces and melancholia, giving it a very personal (semi-religious) feel with the wine and bread, even down to the way Russian is pronounced. Well done Ina.

    • Hi David, thank you very much 🙂 The snow we are having now, reminded me of this “event”, this encounter made a lasting impression in my memory. Not sure if it is a poem, prose, or prosety lol.

  3. Ina I can only concur with the other comments made here. This is so beautiful and transformative. Your poetry is so consistent with nuances and structure. I simply enjoy every read.

  4. This is certainly one of my favourites of all your poems.

    To me it is poetry and very good poetry at that.

    And the last two lines are just superb – leaving us (your readers) with a sense of surprise and pleasure.

    Clearly train journeys work for you 🙂

    Arohanui

    David

    • hi David,
      thank you so very much! 🙂 I am really very happy with your comment, and yes, trains are my fav. way of transport lol. If you say it is poetry, than I am all for it. 🙂

      Arohanui 🙂

      Ina

  5. Hi Ina,

    You are a great writer! This was too short for me. I wanted more and more.

    And I am totally with you regarding train journeys, my favourite form of transport, too, by far.
    There is a mystery to them somehow. I fancy the Orient Express or I may have a too glossy image of it from watching Agatha Christie films (also a favourite of mine) I wouldn’t want the murders on the train though!! LOL 🙂

    Love and hugs xx

    • Hi Christine,

      thank you very much for that kind compliment!
      The Orient Express, would it not be wonderfull to take a trip with that one? 🙂
      Without the murders, I agree 🙂

      Love and hugs! xx

  6. Francina said:

    you still stood there though;
    a black monument of loneliness
    lost in the pain of the snow,

    remarkable lines, Ina! Enjoyed the read of your journey.

    groetjes,
    Francina

  7. Ina, I really LOVE this one – your description of this encounter, which makes me want the “story” to continue – like a poignant scene from a movie. This is my new favorite of all your poetry. 🙂

    • Hi Betty, thank you very much for your kind comment 🙂 I often wonder what happended to him, he looked very lonely in that snow.

  8. What a touching anecdote, and with delightful and amusing phrases as well!

  9. This piece is a beautiful example of how a sense of eternity (those wonderful first 2 lines!) is born out of a moment…the extraordinary out of the ordinary…a meeting an accident planned by something outside our own itinerary.

    The sharing of bread and wine…is there something more going on here than a brief human connection?

    I love these kinds of meetings…they make for such seductive scenes and stories…perhaps with the true fairytale endings…

    And you tell them with such lovely detail and finesse, Ina.

    • Hi Diane, what a great comment, I am very pleased you like it. He just happened to have bread and wine with him and he shared. 🙂 In Morrocco a soldier shared his bread (with baked potatoes on it!) with me in a train, and in another train it was a German who gave me his sandwiches. lol I suppose I look hungry in trains or something 🙂

  10. Ahhh, Ina, Ina. What a marvelous poem!
    A moment it was, just a moment we shared,
    nothing compared with eternity really,
    But you have remembered all these years, and here that moment is!, captured in a story poem that will live on for a long time, I predict. What I particularly like is that the story is not sentimental or just a reminiscence, but you dig into the meaning of what happened and why it meant something to you, and you manage to convey that without every saying exactly what that meaning was. The American poet Archibald McLeish once said that a poem should mean, not say, and that’s why you pulled off here. I am always trying to accomplish that, but it is difficult to do. The very best poetry, of course, does not mean, but is. Poems like that often end up in big thick anthologies.

    • Hi Thomas
      thank you so very much for your comment, I am very pleased you like it. Some moments just stay in our memory because they are special I suppose, and worthy of remembering!
      I think the briefness of the encounter and the questions that we never asked each other
      made it so.
      I shall try and find Archibald McLeish on the internet.

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