by Oana Avasilichioaei
(escucha a Oana leer el poema aquí)1
It wanted a mortem profundam.
Not a death-reeking immortality,
aunts and fathers crying over photographs
smudged with the smell of Augustus at the summer cottage,
not a death the colour of the tailor’s skin
when he spoke of babies at the village wedding.
Death absolute, erased, complete.
No imprints, no etchings, memories, nothing.
The blue-eyed wife tried to bribe it,
fed it cornmeal with red onions and feta,
let it take a swig of slivovitz spiced
with peppercorns and two swigs of her breast.
I want my man back, she begged.
It tossed a bone and asked,
Why want him when you can have me?
She spat in his face, cursed profanities
in God’s name and his genitals’,
so he grabbed her wrists,
squeezed just enough. Listen,
you wasted woman, I have eaten God.
It listened to its stomach rumble,
move and contract, noisy
like the tumble of steel and brick
at a demolition site: it fell in love
with the sound of its stomach rumbling,
so youthful it laughed for love.
From the dragon’s cookbook:
For breakfast, eat diseases.
At lunch, outlaw street children,
the handicapped and gypsies.
And do away with light. Excluding times
when foreign dignitaries visit, export
electricity from eight to six each day.
Dinner, always serve it late.
Something light, tasty, perhaps the tulips
thrown to you from the roaring crowds.
Except on Sunday nights.
Concoct a book of speeches
given at various functions that week.
Never. They upset the stomach.
The fever lasted years.
Laughing, the dragon cursed through the country, like an ocean
scrubbling laundry with a tornado.
It tried alchemy, suddenly ardent for old wisdom:
mix cow’s milk, freshly squeezed,
horse shit and a parsley leaf,
spit flames and turn to gold.
It saw itself
in itself, innumerable reflections
in a street paved with glass.
Then one day, tired of this mirage,
his head feverish with noisy beggary, he kicked
I am your oracle, it spoke,
your visionary child. Come,
and I will take the weariness
out of your mouth, lift it from your tongue.
This life unnerves you,
this rotting sea where a swim
is a prolonged drowning,
this interrogating light. I wait,
beneath the lamp. Lampposts
are good to visit. In their shadows,
snowflakes falling on snow
are large flies scurrying along the ground.
“Let me tell you about freedom.
Freedom is a walk to the corner bakery
to buy all the bread you could possibly want,
bread in all shapes, sizes, flavours.
Freedom is turning on the tap in your house
To have hot water flow out
anytime, day or night.
Freedom is coming home in winter
to find light and heat.
Freedom is going to parades
because you want to.
Freedom is volunteer work
done for pleasure.
Freedom is political jokes in newspapers,
on radio, seen on TV.
It’s expensive, voluptuous, freedom.
So while you lie on your bed
staring at the ceiling fan,
you can’t afford it.”
Romania. It squeezed her dry.
They wanted it to weep with poppies,
but it bathed in golden tubs full of milk,
it deflowered clouds and fields,
it deflowered villages.
Dragon began in taverns,
for it wanted drunkards to sing its glory.
Then it moved to schools
because it liked to watch children
adore its picture on textbook covers.
Next it contacted the foreign media.
The country is mine, it told them. I’ve improved it,
made it great, colossal. Colossal!
Disguised as a beggar, urged on
by a touch of nostalgia,
it caught an old woman by a church door.
She dropped a coin in the wishing-well.
It stopped her and held out the cup of its hand.
She pretended not to notice, tightened her headscarf.
It followed her in.
What do you want, you good-for –nothing? she asked.
What do you want, old woman?
Get away you fool! I come for God
to pray that my family is spared.
I am the masquerade, the railing
through which your fingers slip. I am the circle,
unfinished because you refuse to end me.
I am the itch
between your shoulder blades,
a day that never begins.
You hunch over an empty sack
and your back moves against my palm
with your hurried breathing. (This breathing;
such a peculiar habit you have.)
The day is waning.
You try to fill the sack with peonie and livid grains.
You don’t notice that the burlap has worn itself thin
by endlessly pleading with you; the rub of grain
that will not sprout. But you don’t listen. Instead
you leave a trail of grains and peonies behind you.
You never listen.
Poema de Oana Avasilichioaei. Reproducido con permiso de la autora.