Anatoly Molotkov’s poetry collections are The Catalog of Broken Things, Application of Shadows and Synonyms for Silence; he has received various fiction and poetry awards. His work appears in Prairie Schooner, The Triquarterly Review, Kenyon Review Online, Massachusetts Review and most other quality journals. His prose is represented by Laura Strachan at Strachan Lit; he co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Please visit him at AMolotkov.com.
Ten Love Stories
You were the brightest apple, most fit for my hand. My hand was unfit for more. I was seduced by the skin of the brightest apple that fit my eye: broken, fading, then remembered.
You stood between the mirror and the tree, the apple in your palm reflectionless. We shared the rules. I entered you, expecting to emerge improved. Inside, a bed, stained mattress, needles, a rusty apple core. A door without a handle, locked behind me. I’m stuck inside your wrong self. Am I the wrong I? They are my needles, my stains, my apple.
I paid for apples, you filled my hands with rocks. My train was leaving. Any story is unlikely, and if my story lacked you, apples would fall through my hands. Rocks would fill my dreams. If I don’t find you, nothing will ever reach me, not even the moon.
Apples, apple trees, apple truths, apple blossoms, lips full of empty promises before the war. How are we to know what remains after years burn? Leaves turned to ashes. Shadow where the tree stood.
Who could have known the apple would fall into my heart, rip me open? Who knew the body was already ripe? When we fell apart in love and time stopped, the mystery was laid open. As if we had to bite into ourselves to know. As if we never were the same.
The worm drills the apple as brown rot spreads through your wellbeing. You find the stars misaligned, the well in the back yard filled with sand. Some animals depart, others decay. You write a love letter you’ll never send. My train leaves.
The air, the animal, the run, the missing apple, missing story, missing face. The herebefore with its own hereafter tailored to our methods of love and ways of longing. The ends and the promises, and a stained mattress on a broken bed where no one sleeps. You, lost elsewhere.
You send a letter meant for everyone, like an open hand or a love song written in ruins, the background of your life. Your quick moves, efficient body, quick death. I place an apple on your coffin. I’m still here.
When the basket broke, the apples scattered, and no one, not even you, could pick up each one. What we think is love escapes, replaced by a new concept of love to fit the new self. You enter me. The apples disappear.
I was a simple apple. My train was leaving. You picked me up, laid me in your basket. I lie, chosen.
“previously published by Atlanta Review”