7th St, Garden City, Starbucks Jeans and turtleneck, then lick cappuccino froth off a plastic lid. Watch the slick man by the door, cigarette hanging from pouting lips. Bask in the indulgence of a warm pretzel. Milk teeth clouds and a glitter sun glued to his hair. Mulch moist to instruct the senses. At the back of your mind, a poem ready to stain the page. Between the silent dahlias and hushed dust mote words, the day, as éventail plisse. Here we are, awake and awed. I haven’t thought about my mother in months just me, these days in every window’s reflection, same hair, different way of wearing the face. My mother’s, thick with febrile caution. Mine, falling into itself, a millipede kind of movement. For a long time, pain lived in the zippered pocket of my purse, ruffling its silver scales. Every time an alone spell came to an end, her image would fall and accumulate without notice, a residue of grief, and those flakes of skin hardened even more, until my brains cratered and I would sleep for days, numb dawns on a string, vacant flesh. Among the living, I stride with others, lumpy fish. A tincture for wounds Four months and counting, in a freefall, clocking time between teeth. Silences fat with longing, while August feverishly unfolds its gifts, from bursting fruit to evenings swathed in violet. This summer pilfers our open hearts, while we gaze into old maps where and what countries we could have held into the eyes and mouths. The Greek sky running out under our twitching eyelids. The saltiness of the Thassos mornings burning a hole into our wanting tongues, children shriek into the turquoise waters, you and I holding breath, the way one listens to something that is always ending. The ghost of foreign voices surfacing each morning, smell taunted by ripening flavors, body following the slow mechanics of the swindling island, allowing us to inhabit a sheer layer of its abundance, while swiftly satiating our cravings with more promise of the days to come. Instead, flaky edges of our backyard thinning days.
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Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the Translation/International Poetry Editor of The Blue Nib.