Ten Theories


The street ends in a dead end, a space removed. Air currents flow around it. Fading gravity. You, inside, at least in theory. It takes a lot of bulbs to light the world.


I arrived before too early. I remember your birthmark. Now it’s no longer too late. Symptoms reemerge. They all agree: you grow daily.


A dry leaf on my porch makes more noise than a jackhammer. I blame myself. You are exemplary, like the brightest of recent stars. I won’t disclose my unimportant identity.


My mind a kaleidoscope. Matter emerges into being: grass blades from granite, muscled fingers at the ends of iron bars, each fence shivering with finger-twisting. As if there ever were another way. So many lives to revisit as the leaf descends.


You’ve never understood why air is so attracted to you, its molecules insistent like children. They never seem to leave you alone. My empty space where you were. I’m still trying to answer that question you asked years ago.


When I burn out, who will replace me? You are more intended than real. They all agree: you are a puzzle. You grow in my memory. You are here.


You are particular, subatomic, defined by contrast, steeped in absence. You mentioned fireflies. They all agree: your eyes are brighter than the space around them, each iris a path into a distinct afterlife. Did you really mean it that way? I remember that birthmark shaped like a question on your shoulder.


I turn the steering wheel 360 degrees. You defy gravity, you defy the lack of gravity. Now I understand a straight line. I will lie to you often in this account. We hold concepts in our hands like rusty weapons as our children gather dust.


You are not what some think you are, nor what I imagine. When my life was empty, I planted question marks along my path. I wish you noticed. Centuries smile at my attempts to summarize you. Now that leaves have arrived, I can’t remember my questions. At a lost street crossing, you wait for yourself.


You move, quintessential, unlike most of us. You let the street go where it wants. The missing space floats, a memory in its own right. A bulb in the ground turns into light on its own terms. I open the window so I may see you, some day. Your eyes are brighter than mine. The birthmark on your shoulder. They all agree: you grow out of everything while I creep in cracks between better things.




Born in Russia, A. Molotkov moved to the US in 1990 and switched to writing in English in 1993. His poetry collections are The Catalog of Broken ThingsApplication of Shadows and Synonyms for Silence (Acre Books/Cincinnati Review, 2019). He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Please visit him at AMolotkov.com.