The Tension of Detail

George Vulturescu

You cannot be "visited" by lightning

only death moves with letters of fire
like moles through clay
tunneling through your brain night after night

Like fires on graves
above the ashes of the letter
your eye stirs the poem's embers

On the bones of letters the poem lies
trembling like flesh

each reading a wound

What more can you see high on the Mountain
when beneath your feet the stones tumble
like dice?

Like the bulbs of plants, the blind eye
can winter over in the brain's clay; it can
live on in the core of the eye that sees
like an unshed tear through which angels flee

A secondary verse
like a second knife hidden
in the tunic:

you are armed

It was an unknown word
perhaps I invented it
perhaps I saw it on
a coin worn smooth

I could give it to the earth
of the page
for a grave

When the painter begins a painting
the apples are red. Beneath the crust
of the impasto nothing rots:
painting is a method
of embalming reality.

We master only vision.
The blind eye masters us.
Whoever knows how to breathe life into ashes
will find me

Beyond the horizon, no
there the peace of the patriarchs begins

When I was a young child near Achim's door,
a sharp stake stabbed my eye.
Now the void flows through the one
the grass of the North through the other:

two tunnels I go through, straight to you

The tavern is a forest where the deer
are petrified with fear:

the silence of those who gaze into themselves

Her skin was like oyster shell
where the sea took its rest.

I did not awaken her:
I plunged into her.

Mirrors keep our image
Only woman's eyes give you back,
tenfold, to yourself

To sleep in the letter and awaken
in the letter,
do not complete the word
that names you

In the wood of trees is the panic
of cowbells
that enter your skin and nest
in your heart.

Lightning is lonelier than
the beasts in the thick copse

Lightning accompanies our life
in the North.
We bear it on the knife's edge
as well as in holy coffins

The poem's words
are steps, slabs of the temple
where your soul has knelt

I tear a grass blade between my teeth:
I taste its juices

as a wolf's tongue licks blood
from the knife's edge

translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and Olimpia Iacob