Nomansland

There is nothing

between you and the stones between the rails

between your breath and the clattering racket

of loaded metal on metal

 

there is nothing

between you and the hum and clang

of exiled men laying the rails,

their hands, their muscle, their chains

 

there is nothing

between you and the women, their children,

clawing for food, gathering the dead wood

of the Sleeping Land.

 

The line steals on -

Perm, Omsk, Novosibirsk -

tramp tramp of boots through fir and birch

and the breaking of bones.

 

Between you and the human bones

that cracked in the stones between the rails

there is nothing

and there is everything.