3 poems by Romana Iorga

Romana Iorga

You Never Wanted It Anyway


This evening drips languorous
poison into my veins.

You tilt the blue 
shade away from your pillow.
My shadow 

leaps on all fours
onto the wall, hangs upside 
down by its nails,

sprints across the ceiling.

Outside, the sky is burning,
a mad woman in her twilit garden.


Sinking deep is almost too easy.
It’s like dropping a coin
in a well. It’s like watching it 

fall, listening for the plonk 
that never comes.

Your mouth twists when you say them,
those words you rarely mean.

After the shower, I take pictures
of footprints on the floor,
a presence that takes no time 

to disappear.


Last fall we strung a see-through tarp
between our cherry trees
to catch the fruit.

We caught the rain instead.
The cherries lolled about
like eyeballs
inside the sagging paunch.

And so, we lay under the pool 
of rain, stabbing its heavy 
belly to make it bleed,

the water warm, already breeding 
flies, or something worse than flies,
something without a name.

Maybe we lost it then, 
what neither of us wanted.

For it was lovely, that distorted 
sky, the two of us sufficient 
unto it. We laughed at moving 

shadows while the sun
erased the remnants of what 
nearly was, or could have been,

then wasn’t.


The house was silent, as if 
the rocks hitting it made 
no sound, didn’t echo 

through empty rooms 
like a black wave,
engulfing the woman 

who crouched under 
the kitchen table, 
hands over ears, eyes shut 

to keep death 
from sprawling inside her,
from ripening 

in her skin, from slithering 
out when the first rocks 
were to find her. 

The black wave snaked 
through eyelets on the blue 
tablecloth, simmered 

in the green coffee pot 
on the stove, jumped high, 
touched the ceiling with thirsty 

fingers. The woman 
opened her eyes, crawled 
to turn off the range. 

Her legs took her through 
unfamiliar rooms. 
Those books, that furniture 

belonged to someone 
she vaguely knew. 
Hand on the doorknob, 

she watched her fear 
still rocking under the table; 
the black wave 

still lapping on her face.
Her death uncoiled 
and swam up, rushed 

out through cracks 
in her skin, bloomed red 
on the trampled 

flower beds. Blades 
of sound hacked 
through bruised air. 

The crowd knelt 
by the blossom, watched it 
open its petals—

slowly, as if 
in a dream. The air 
hummed with its scent.
Years later, the black wave 
found them all 
in their own hiding places, 

filled their lungs with that 
scent, sealed nostrils 
and mouths, steeped them 

in their skins. 

My Body Is Also a Word

Precise as a clock when the mind isn’t. 		
The only thing I have that tells time 

It searches for its futures 
in the crooked lines on its palm, 
in the stretch marks that point like roots 
toward the bigger body of the earth. 

Its face is wrapped in a shadow. 
It only knows the faces of its children.

It’s loud. So loud. It slams its gaze 
against tall windows at dawn: Out! Out!
It springs from volatile pelt, 
prowls the dark cages 
of sleep, rips through dreamflesh 
with new fangs. It has a clear conscience.

In a crowded room it looks 
smaller, but so does everyone else. 
It feels smaller, like many do 
but don’t show it. It learns to hide 
in plain view, sometimes successfully. 

It has the sleek hide of a loved pet 
but doesn’t like to groom itself. 
It thinks of itself as unloved for the drama. 

In the clear eyes of its children it grows 
banyan roots. It fosters attachments 
on rainy days, ploughs through the light 
with a cloven foot. When asked 
to surrender, it does so on second thought. 

It goes to bed out of sheer exhaustion, 
but also for the love of that furry 
animal, sleep. It dreams of innumerable 
children. It dreams of a childless life, a lonely 
death on some forlorn mountain peak.

It has the aura of a double-edged 
sword, the cry of a loon. 
It swaddles the moon, swallows it 
whole. It gives birth to twins.

It glows from within with the core 
of a star but dares not look 
in the mirror. It fears what it can’t see.

It smells like a secret. 
If asked, it can fly all night. 

It wakes up before birdsong 
and fills the rooms with morning. 
It never learns to make the right coffee. 

It breaks rules now and then just to keep alive.

It loves sweets and their absence. It loves 
love, the unattainable kind, unrequited, or lost. 
It gives in to hatred now and then 
just to keep alive. 

It grows branches, sprouts blossoms, 
calls them children or poems. 
It takes care of some, ignores the others.
Reverses the order the next morning. 
Thrusts deep roots into guilt, 
into memory. Loses both on a good day. 

It gathers baskets of sin, 
armfuls of flaws just to keep 
alive. It flies on broomsticks and fallen 
leaves, then dreams itself fallen 
or crushed or rotten. 

It dares not dream of redemption.
It thrives like any common flower 
in unhallowed grounds.

It makes its own spring with one swallow.

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Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, Romana Iorga is the author of two poetry collections in Romanian. Her work in English has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals, including the New England Review, Salamander, The Nation, as well as on her poetry blog at clayandbranches.com.

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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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