Three Poems by Romana Iorga

Grief Meridian

The skin comes off first.
All those years, when kind words
weighed more
than random anger.
Now, we take turns
opening doors to ache.
Now, we forget to close them.

This is the longitude of grief,
the latitude of sorrow.

Twilight bleeds on white-washed
walls in the kitchen.
Its filaments flicker, sputter,
sink with a hiss.
Nearby, the mouse of solitude, fat
as a tomcat, scatters
his prodigal teeth across my floor.

In the corner, no one can see
the shadow uncoiling, but me.

Fear is not even a word, it explains
nothing. Peace one minute, the next–
barricades fall, walls crumble.
Little is known
about moments like this.
Some think they’re drowning
in bliss, turns out to be–

The roof has given in, too.

It’s geometrically impossible
for parallel lines to cross on a page.
If the page were infinite;
if, say, we lived
on Olympus, you with your
lightning bolts, I with my herd
of cows, who knows?

You are the titan, the crow,
the impartial actor misplacing
his marbles
in the folds of discarded costumes.

Characters crowd on your brow.
Your face is sometimes familiar.

The unknown is less forbidding
when the vantage point
changes constantly.
The things we fear
become the norm.
The body learns the hidden
places between people, the open
spaces between words.

As for the mind, it’s a lonely
traveler anyway, in and out of itself
and mostly abroad.
must be the essence
of fear.
Ensconced in loss,
in its cocoon of viscous flesh,
the only voice we never
want to hear,
is our own.

some things to watch out for in a poem

something big               something small          something
with wings

something hungry        or sated                         something
that doesn’t know what it wants

to die                  to sleep                        perchance
to write a poem

something that grows on trees           like money
but juicier                 something      with a pit
pick it                           eat it                       break
your teeth on it

something that strokes your neck at night
not a feather           not someone’s breath      not even
a dream

something that clings to a wall              scurries along
the ground       binds your hands         bursts
out of your mouth

something that stretches            lingers               grows
follows wherever you go

something that holds up the sky              gets caught
in your teeth               makes clamshells weep

something covered with moss you pull up to your chin
over your lips                  your eyes             your naked

something that breaks              into song
when you expect it the least

something that drops from the sky                    shatters on impact

something with a tail to nuzzle into your palm          to pierce
the soft                 shell of your heart             something
to take home

something that rolls from under your feet       gathers
no moss              loves                  glass houses                 something
to hold in your fist

something with roots you want to slip          sleep under
climb into              hug          borrow its skin

something neither too big                      nor too small
something            in-between

foreign blood                               sânge străin

it’s all about being born                             altundeva
somewhere else                                           te trezești
this place in your mind                              că nu exiști
that ceased to exist                                      altundeva
the moment you left it                                nici
limba ta
foreign words shrivel                                  singura
on your tongue                                 pe care-o cunoști
never truly awakened                        până la sânge
nu te mai  știe
your accent betrays you                             hainele tale
the way you look                             gesturile
up and smile                                                                                  micile
too widely      too soon     incomodități
 ale trupului
you’re awfully serious                                  încolțit
you’re rather vain                                         din păcate         sunt
măști          toate măști
it depends                                                                                                   toate
on who you talk to      or whom                  cu cine taci
you’re silent with                                                                        respirând
aer străin
that grin you fail to                                                       te refaci într-alt
recognize in the mirror                 chip
is no protection                                                              mai puțin
but feels like it                                               sparge oglinda
sparge oglinda îți zic
blood                                                                                             sânge străin
thumps louder in your eardrums            străin
when you hear your name                                                       până la sânge
hopelessly deformed                      ești
yours nonetheless                                                                    sigură
it’s a baby you cannot give up                                   că mai e al tău
for adoption                                                    acest
so you give up yours                                                    nume
and wait                                             acest
to be loved                                                                  sânge?

Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, Romana Iorga lives in Switzerland. She is the author of two poetry collections in Romanian. Her work in English has appeared or is forthcoming in EcoTheo Review, Lunch Ticket, Harpur Palate, Stoneboat, Cagibi, PANK, and others, as well as on her poetry blog at