Fast Fiction

On the Way to the Pushkin Hills — by Carol V. Davis

Night. A blue-black bruise expanding. Conversations shrink to staccato pricks row by row. We two Americans hurtling into the Russian countryside wonder only briefly if the bus were to crash, would we ever be identified? Another village. Small curls of smoke. Carved window frames. Snow falls, mounds rise from the roadside, as if they will soon meet. Nearing midnight we slow to enter a barely paved road through a dense forest. Branches scrape the roof. I half expect Baba Yaga to thrust from behind a trunk, stop the bus with a flick of her wrist. We pull beside a small wooden structure, more hostel than hotel, stumble out, bleary eyed. Light draws us in moth-like. We leave our passports at the desk and stumble upstairs. The room bare as a monk’s cell. I peer out the window at the white stripes of birch. This country so vast and we so far from anywhere. A young couple, newlyweds we are told, step out the front door. Fur tight against her neck, she raises an arm to light a cigarette, its tip red as a fox’s eyes against the night.
author photo (2)
Carol V. Davis received a 2015 Barbara Deming Memorial grant. She is the author of Between Storms (TSUP, 2012) and won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg.  She is poetry editor of the Los Angeles newspaper the Jewish Journal.