You Never Wanted It Anyway 1. 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. 2. 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. 3. 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. Adulterous 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 accurately. 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.
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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