Biter Cherries. Burdocks. 2 poems by Monica Manolachi

Monica Manolachi

Bitter Cherries

It took her a month to buy a salt shaker.
One day she had a last eclair with her daughters in town. 
She left her soul at home on the hallstand
and slowly climbed the airstairs
to the country of sighing where immigrants go. 
A walking dead as she was, she had no tears. 
Her life had stopped. Lunches every other day.
She remained a mother on the phone only.
When cooking for others, she thought of her family.

A straniera has no life of her own.

In supermarkets, she would turn around
to ask them basic questions: no reply.
She gradually built a fictitious prison inside.
There she exchanged verbs and cherries with her patiens. 
There she wrote her heart-wrenching letters. 
When her elder daughter gave birth to a son,
the new grandma had to conceal her intense delight 
and go on washing the dishes, cleaning the floors
as if nothing big had happened.


You never called her mother 
and she did not expect you to do so. 
She was the sharpest woman 
you have ever known, powerful and smart.
Cunningly smart, a ravenous burdock.
Everybody in the family was against her.
It was she who raised her brothers and sisters
after their mother perished. For that, 
everybody in the village bore a grudge against her.
She had sinned and gave up her first child 
and you had to bear a grudge too. 
It did not matter the war had just ended.
What could one do with the fallen prickly burrs
of a heart-shaped weed, seeds that no one wanted? 
That she consented to your final separation
none of your relatives cared about. 
You were her unwanted surplus of maternity.

When she filed for divorce in her forties, 
she had woven a huge stack of spreads
with geometric burdocks, red, purple and blue,
one inch per hour, year after year, 
pairs of each pattern, one upon the other,
one for the daughter she had to give up, 
one for her son, who was to throw her out later,
kilims that were meant for you, a strange dowry
you have never considered really yours,
which she eventually sold cheap to her sisters,
a gesture that made you feel atrocious pity
for the perfect victim she had become. 
Have you ever cried over each other’s shoulder?
What if this rustling open velcro 
could keep your hazy memories together? 

Monica Manolachi lives in Bucharest, Romania, where she teaches English and Spanish at the University of Bucharest. She is a literary translator and a poet. She has published numerous articles on contemporary poetry and prose, and is the author of Performative Identities in Contemporary Caribbean British Poetry (2017).

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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