Three Poems

Denisa Comănescu

Lines to be Set at a Particular Place
in the Poem
"Getting Out of the Car"

for m.i.

he has thirteen cats
and I won't mention his name
we met by chance in the castle
and one time out on the terrace, I remember, on a Tuesday
when a rainstorm had broken several windows
usually I caught sight of him at dawn setting out for the station
he'd take an early morning train
but he walked those five, six miles
then he huddled in the waiting room
he was an old friend of the station
even now I don't know if he liked the crowd there
I think it kept death away from his poems
just long enough
for one of his thirteen cats to bring forth new life

Waiting for Him in the Imagination

clinging to the restaurant window
here at the wailing wall
several moths give me the once-over
across the street a lame girl sells water lilies in a plastic pail
pale yellow,
they seem in their sleep swollen viscera
I touch my face
it too feels flaccid
ready to slip away:
how to satisfy the vulture
that grows inside you
like a swiss watch
taking its everyday menu from your despair?
I could shoot that group of people
coming out just now, maybe they know something
about a balanced life
there exists an art of losing
I've practiced it for nine years
like the chart of a slow disaster
like an iceberg perfect in its geometrical form
thrust into the imagination
like this waiting

The Obsession with Biography

If somebody would brush my hair aside
if somebody would raise my hair gently from my brow
this city might appear
like a crazy diamond
with its lonely streets and ramshackle houses
that tumble down at the mere shutting of a door
with its strelitzia gardens and rubbish bins
where childhood echoes
still can be heard whispering:
Mea mater, mea pater,
filium vestrum lupus est
with its music shattering cars' eardrums
photographs that murder the leer of old men
and clay jugs of curdling milk
left everywhere in the houses
by the dying father
to be found only by the lover
who deserted his daughter
(no, he won't be coming back
the old man gave up the ghost for nothing
and even if he returned
he wouldn't give a damn
thinking that later his own father
would sell his soul
in who knows what kind of shady deal)
with its lilacs in the courtyard of the girls' dormitory—
blind men standing watch over anemic flowers
blossomed too early have a premonition
of Gemini wallowing in Aquarius
(insane, it's insane
soon we'll celebrate a feast)
with the old hunchback woman
you made faces at
when she shrieked:
"You too will be like me
(A week later you fell
and followed the old woman's shadow
like a calf.
If she were still alive in her little house under the hill
what things she could tell you)
with your friend who bore her ugliness
like a purse bulging with silver
(she abandoned you too:
retreating in the ear of a mountain
next to a strong young man, she—
the small, the weak, the stunted . . .
When she comes back home
bearing her poems enclasped in precious metals
many who remained here
will have disappeared)
with the virginal bed
the bed of torment
(somebody climbed through the window
and stole your nights)
where you tossed about
as if a baby had installed its cries
inside you
but you didn't know any lullabies
with the pigeons in the cage received as a gift
at eighteen
(every fall you kill them one by one
and read their entrails
bang: your father's dying
bang: your lover's leaving
bang: you guzzle the bottle that holds less Neuleptil than you hoped
bang bang . . . )

But nobody raised my hair gently from my brow
nobody brushed my hair aside
and this city where
Mea mater, mea pater,
filium vestrum lupus est
is like a dead sea
(and it's in vain the blind man prophesies
a feast
the rot was buried in me
too deeply
to reach the surface)
and forever will remain hidden
like a crazy diamond

translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and Denisa Comănescu