Went Alone to Watch a Soviet Movie on a Chilly Winter Night

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You went alone to watch a Soviet movie on a chilly winter night. Grimy leather boots in wide-screen commotion polish the tip of your nose. Trenches wound Moscow’s muddy winter fields, the women’s noses are pale as frozen peppers. Their headscarves flash in the woods, flecks of color. In the cold shop, soldiers pour icy beer— in your stomach beer ferments, a grassy taste. The soldiers peel off their wives and lovers, climb into the train. Young faces reflect in the windows’ gloom. Children dot the grass like birds, the wind blows the leaves all over your body. No one talks to you on the thawing steps. The war is delayed until spring, like malaria, it runs hot and cold. The cavalry pace along the tracks. The black gust stings, and people must close their eyes. The women in the cinema are, of course, in full bloom; your hands have relaxed. At the end, you become friends with the heroine. With a noble, serious expression, you carry the girl like a seized German machine gun, and take her all the way home. When winter ends, she has matured into a woman. She sits quietly beside your book, knitting a sweater, responding to your summons. You no longer think of summer, no longer quarrel with people in your dreams. Let the trenches in the Russian fields climb up over your forehead. When winter ends, you are at peace, immersed in your work, like a veteran who survived the war.