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The end of line

Updated on January 20, 2016
Beata Stasak profile image

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

Police officers, civilians, poets...wherever you live you find them

If you get lost on the road

you don't have to retrace your steps

you can turn off

at next junction

and find

what you have been

searching for...

There is one point

to be made

I was travelling on a train

the train through Russia

in my mind

And the story went like this:

On a clear




main station

is magical place.

All floodlit

and yet gloomy


in ornamental tiles

and folkloric decorations

I shiver

as I enter

the castle gate

looming above me

like a triumphal arch

ready to continue

on my journey

to the north

to see

with my own eyes

how Russia

has evolved.

The historical

St Petersburg

is where

I have started

my travel back

in history

early this morning

feeling like Anna Karenina

in disguise

a veil

over my powdered face

a perfumed hankie

to my nose

sitting in a tight corset

repeating learnt verses

in French

from the safe distance


the world go by

too much money

to spent


to death

with life.

And the day


I have followed

a short but sweet

Russia's first

railway line

built in 1837

by my countryman

a Bohemian engineer

for the Russian aristocracy

to reach

their English

summer style

retreat in Pavlovsk.

But that is not the life

I really want

to experience

Tolstoy's words

are not longer


the way

they used to be


does not feel

like an integral part

of Europe.


While travelling

from St Petersburg

to Moscow

I overhead the conversation

a kink in the railway line

is where

or so it was said

Tsar Nicholas I's finger

got in the way of his ruler

when he drew a line

between the cities.

Whatever the truth of that

over the centuries

railways here

have represented

the will

of an authoritarian ruler,

the supremacy

of state power

as an entering soldier

checking my ticket

proved to me

with his stern

and suspicious look.

Important in his uniform

he asked about my whereabouts

I said I am just a traveller

living years abroad

who is

rediscovering her past

back in broken English

he replied:

"You in Russia

so speak Russian!"

I turned back to my window

while he snooped around

in my compartment

looking for an evidence

of something

I should be accused of?

Nothing has changed

in the boom

of private capital

or grand

mad projects

of Soviet times.

The terrors of Stalinism

never leaves


I am afraid.

So now I am here,

in the capital city

of post communist Russia

it takes more

than a day

to reach Archangel

so plenty time

to conserve

with fellow travellers


and reflect.

The four-berth


is warm and cosy


the wheels click and clack

the calming sound

of tea glasses


on the table

make you feel sleepy

at once

until Ekaterina

the plump attendant

pops in with a big smile

"I live on the train

for two weeks

at a time."

I brush up my Russian

I have learnt

30 years ago

studying in Volgograd,

"It must be hard,"

I say

but she laughs:

"We are the train people,

that is who we are."

She sees my surprise

and explains:

"We sleep on the train,

we eat not the train,

wash our clothes,

we meet

and marry people

who work

on the train

and when

we get stressed?"

She smiles again

and shows me her wool,

"we knit and knit and knit,

I have been here for 20 years

so I am good at it now."

She sits besides me

her needles fast moving

in her hands,

while she talks away

"Railways are often referred

as 'threads'

in Russian,"

She looks at me


"They tie the country



in previous decades

civilised it."

I nod and think,

these threads

like many others,

had military roots.

One of the first line

from Warsaw

then part of Russian empire

to the border of Austria and Hungary

where my forebears were born

and the Russian strong ally,

was used by Nicholas I

to send Russian troops

to surpress

a Hungarian rebellion in 1848.

And what about Lenin

who arrived from Germany

by train

to lead Bolshevik revolution

and the rest is really history.

At least for my country

who lived under Russian communist rule

for fifty years.

it is partly for defensive reasons

Ekaterina whispers to me

the Russian railway tracks

have a wider gauge

that European ones.

Whereas Russia

could transport

its troops to its borders

a train with foreign troops

would not be able

to roll into Russian,

we do not trust anyone,

she sighs

and it is like this

to this day.

Train journey in Russia

is measured in days

and nights

rather than hours

enough time or space

for thought

or heart-searching

all one sees

is forest



uncultivated fields


in winter

with snow

not a settlement

in sight

or a soul.

"In Europe people die

because their space

is cramped

and suffocating,"

Chekhov wrote in a letter.

"In Russia they die

because the space

is an endless expanse."

Another traveller


our compartment

a young forester

from Archangel


strikes up

a conversation

with Ekaterina

about injustice

and corruption

Someone has taken

the money he paid

for the repair of his truck

and vanished with it.

A local policeman

asked him for a bribe

of 10,000 roubles

before he would investigate.

Ekaterina pats his arm

and keeps knitting

stories like this

she hears every day

a few hundred miles

from Moscow

the train comes

to a planned three-hours stop

for track maintenance.

Igor turns to me,

"Russian history was often

viewed as a track,

that was fixed from past

to future."

He smiles:

I"If you get lost on a road,

you don't have to retrace

your steps,

but if your history

is a railway line,

you have to go

all the way back

in order to get

on the right track."

" I agree," I reply

"Much of the energy

of Mikhail Gorbachev's

1980 perestroika generation

was spent

looking for

that wrong track

where the Soviet Union

had lost

its course."

Igor looks up

and I continue,

"For me personally

that happened in 1968

when the Soviet Union

invaded Czechoslovakia,

where I was born."

He shrugs:

"For Putin and us

the wrong turn

was perestroika itself,

and our Soviet Union's


This does not bother


our train attendant

she keeps knitting

as she smiles:

"I've never been abroad

and don't want to go,

why would I go there?"

"Because your own salary

is low

just like mine,"

Igor interrupts

her angrily,

"it has dropped

by a third

and maybe

goes down

even more."

She waves her hand at him:

"Mr Putin brought our country

up from its knees,

he will fix it."

"I have heard stories

about the fabulous wealth

and vasty country estates

of Mr Putin and his cronies."

I get hold of her hand,

"There are so many oligarchs

in Russia..."

She laughs, "Where are they?

Maybe where you come from,

for sure they do not travel

on my train."

She claps my hand into hers,

"Look at me,

I am not allowed to sell vodka,

but if you come and ask me


I will sell it to you."

After nearly 27 hours

and few too many glasses

of vodka

our train arrives in Archangel,

the dream port

that led to free land

to the vision of Russia

to become once

a new Norway.

The city to which

emperor Alexander III

sailed up by river

as railway reached

only the medieval Vologda

in the 17th century.

he was fascinated

by the Russian North

the peasantry there

were of pure special Russian type

never conquered

free of seldom

people owning their land

As I walk through the city's elegant

17th century merchants' yards

overlooking the steely waters of the Diving

it feels like different Russia

the one I would like to see

before the Tatar invasion in the 13th century

But the HubPages said:

"Some one else was

travelling on this train

before you!"

"Of course they did,"

I smiled:

"It is opened to everyone

who has a valid ticket,

but they could not possibly

see the railway through my eyes!

The HubPages policeman

enters my writing compartment:

"You on the HubPages

write as we tell you!"

What else to do

but to go all the way back

to get on the right track?

it has been six wonderful years

with HubPages

time to say goodbye

and catch another train....

Post Note:

I have been writing while travelling

and had no clue

where this journey takes me,

before I disembark

I bow my head

in respect

to the HubPages

for letting me to say

what I needed to say:)

There is a big difference


these two trains' journeys

in my mind.

It is called



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    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      3 years ago from Western Australia

      thank you my fellow Croatian:)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful and honestly written.

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      3 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you Marie, sometimes I just write way too much:) And not always I write what I should or how I should or how people think or feel I should, well I am a rebel in many shapes and form and writing is not different to me:) I have studied in Russia thirty years back now and back then I have been speaking Russian as my native tongue which is not English as you see:) I like English and use it as best as I can and in narrative poem I can write without restraints of grammar and so on and so

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I popped onto this from Linkedin.

      Beata, you have an epic poem here! (I confess to time constraints discouraging me from reading all of it.)

      I'm half Slav, a people whose language uses the Russian alphabet. So, I may very well be back to read it in its entirety with care.


    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      3 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you my fellow huber, I will come back:)...B

    • Discordzrocks profile image


      3 years ago from Aw Man


    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      3 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Loved this poetic journey to the truth. Great pics. Sorry to hear you are leaving Beata but glad to know you will be stopping by.

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      3 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you so much my fellow hubbers, what can I say, I have made my exit but left the door open enough to pop in and see you all:) Life is not black and white and neither creative life is...we leave so we can return, as you said brave warrior life is too short to do what you don't like...I am travelling right now so I take a break and see....thank you for your kind words everyone:)...and be blessed all and stay safe and always Free to write from heart...and I meet you here again when I return from my journey...

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Beata, this is a beautiful exit. I won't say I wont' miss you. You are on a journey that will fulfill you and give you plenty of inspiration. Life is full of changes. You've taken the opportunity that was laid before you, and for that, you are to be celebrated.

      I don't question your decision in the least. I have a saying that I live by. It goes like this:

      When it feels good, do it.

      It it doesn't, don't


      when it stops, quit.

      Thank you for sharing your life with us. We are all better for it. Bless you on your journey. Be safe and be free.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Beata as John said, this is sad news. I feel this poetry is exemplary and reaches the status of literaure. (Not all poetry does this.)

      Our paths have not often passed her on Hubpages, but I am enjoyed the few times that they have.

      The more talent that leaves Hubpages, the smaller they get and a great deal of talent has taken a different path and are better for it.

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      3 years ago from Western Australia

      Exactly ginjil smile life is too short and my writing is just a hobby and no one is perfect, hey? So all good on my side hopefully on the side of the HubPages too:)

      Thank you Jodah, of course I would not leave when I have found so great writing buddies but have to wait for another holiday to find time for writing smile:) Happy to hear from you both and all the best with hubbing:)

    • ginjill ashberry profile image

      Ashley TKL 

      3 years ago

      Pleased to read that. Every family has misunderstandings and problems..even here in Hubpages.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good to hear you are staying :)

      You made you point successfully and had your poem published again in this hub so that is great.

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      3 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you ginjill that is what I wanted to make smile the point of what has happened to me:) And I wanted to have my narrative poem which I haven't published anywhere else to get out! They have took out the original one which Jodah has read because apparently it was similar to something someone else written! I can not say I have not read anything similar! But people write about everything and as I said you can travel on the same train and write about the same subject and still bring something new. HubPages has felt I didn't bring anything new with my Russian story so I wanted readers to decide it about that so by 'Farewell HubPages' hub I have been able to do just that. I have inserted the original poem there and explained what has happened to me.

      I was not sure if they publish it but they did so I feel our disagreement was sorted out now:)

      Thank you so much Jodah, maybe I stay, smile who knows it is not serious smile I wanted to make a point and get my story out I have done just so I can write another hub, " Hello again HubPages,' smile do not worry it is just a hobby writing and if I have so sweet fellow Hubbers who want me to stay I stay:) Thank you for your support my fellow writers very appreciated:)...B

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Beata, this is sad that you have chosen to leave when I have only recently found your delightful writing. HubPages are losing too many good writers because their requirements are becoming too strict and stifling for many.

      The only way this should have been seen as duplicate it seems could have been if you had published the poem on another website or hub.

      I do understand if you must leave and I will try to stay in contact through LinkedIn I suppose. All the best.

    • ginjill ashberry profile image

      Ashley TKL 

      3 years ago

      You have made your point. Yet it has happened before. Will you stay for those who values you?

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      3 years ago from Western Australia

      The Russian train poem story you read in the middle was taken out from HubPages because someone else wrote something similar apparently, it made me angry and sad so I wanted to talk to HubPages here in the poem form about my journey with the Russian train and the HubPage train in my creative way. When I was travelling in Russia you are not allowed too much to voice your opinion or write what you like. When I was travelling on the HubPages on my imaginary train I have got the feeling it is similar, but eventually HubPages published my story here as you see in the middle so I guess the HubPages train is still more free. I am leaving because I do not like to be told I have used my story somewhere else when I didn't! Or it is not good enough because someone else wrote something my opinion you can travel on the same train to the same destination and still bring something new to the hub readers...that is the story behind my poem:)

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      3 years ago from India

      Nice poem! I am sorry to hear that you are leaving this site for the 'lack of freedom' as you call it.

    • vrdm profile image

      Deacon Martin 

      3 years ago from Bristol, UK

      Nice piece, but I don't get the HP intervention. Can you explain more fully? Best wishes, DM


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