from Air with Diamonds

Mircea Cărtărescu

Illustration by Cody Cobb

Let's Make Love, Chera Mu . . . 

let's make love, chera mu, let's make love tujur
for tomorrow we'll fall victim to floods, landslides, and heavy drinking
for tomorrow a yesterday with narrow spider's legs will crawl in the
                                                                                   alcoholic curls of your hair
and confuse you, get you drunk . . . 
let's be tender, grumbled the cățelu shooting range and raised its sights
to the voluptuous hips at the filaret bus station
let's be tender, squeaked the roundabout sign, my lonely one
let's be tender, a fly agreed.
spring licked us on the face and hands like a Pekingese
and made us wonder how we would taste on the infinite tongue of a night
                                                                                   full of charter buses and stars
spring caressed us, sometimes went beyond the limits of motherhood or
                                                                                   innocent friendship
and sensually revealed cold breasts under a worn, turquoise jacket.
oh, stay a while, the lampshade whispered down to a thread in the carpet,
don't you want to come up with me? We'll have drinks, listen to music, I'll
                                                                                   show you my library . . .
don't you want to stay with me tonight?
let's hold hands, said the intern at emilia irza hospital
to the tinplate rabbit in the toy display.
let's make love, let's make amour, let's be fruitful and multiply
the canvas and velour sang on gabroveni street and the tweeds and tulles
answered to the police sergeants and lady dispatchers until they went hoarse
let's make love, bumbled the pollen and the clouds
let's do it, panted the barbershops.
like little light bulbs in a row
nerves cracked in the forearm, veins swelled everywhere,
in nostrils, olfactory receptors locked their winter coats in wardrobes
and the refractive index devoured a chicken sandwich
in the eye's perverted gaze.
oh so many glances, so many absentminded accidents,
so many settled accounts, policies closed!
my little angel looked at herself in the mirror and hacked a lung
seeing a factory behind her.
spring spread thick onto the television,
like a slice of bread, our minds stiffened with industrious projects,
                                     having seen a miniature world ravaged by trenches,
having dreamt of power and krakatoa, of the smell of the invisible man's
                                                                                   fox fur
of the velveteen eyes of the man who walks through walls . . .
our minds would remember since they were hunched over
since they were pulsing, then throbbing, writhing, crawling, groping,
the forearm's feeling of having feathers vanished into thin air,
the ear, its feeling of having heard the bellowing of a triceratops
and the hydrogen bubbles smacking malaria in the face.
believe in me, gurgled the intestinal flora
spreading luxuriously in the arms of terror
who, that night, wore a simple, elegant, and youthful outfit,
just give me a little kiss, digestion begged metabolism,
you bastard, don't hurt me, sneered one mouth to another
and schizophrenia to paranoia
while I waited for you at the bus stop for number 88 or 90 to zoia's.

evening came and the city stirred
night came and streets bubbled like soda
let's be tender, losing lottery ticket, let's be tender, rug beater,
let's love each other, water spigot, let's travel, pocket folders,
in dresses of debris and green twigs, of sausages and cheese,
soaked in vodka and gasoline, emotions went out cruising.
beyond tunnels and passages covered with stained glass
a kitten scratched at a bay window
and the waiters were allowed a disjointed life in breweries free of charge.
let's make love, unamuno, wacko, let's make love, chera mu,
and then stiff each other on matches, pliers, and toothpaste
let's tear away our thoughts of the world and living
let's ignore the pressures put to our minds
by the complex of the university's grozăveşti district.
spring looked down, yellowed from the stratosphere, tickled by ions and
                                                                                   the ozone
let's get to know each other better, snail, say,
let's hug each other, train depot, paper scraps, waste bin
and at the fountain near the end of alexandru alley let's splash water at
                                                                                   each other
right next to the clinic where even the trees
smelled like the dentist's office.


you seem made of cellophane, you seem won at dice
and lost through your womanhood and won again
and lost and won again and, in the end, pinned down as the malachite
                                                                                   tie pin
you seem, as you put one foot in front of the other, to be musing
though the thinnest, you seem to issue fuel and solar cells to every
                                                                         indifferent and hurried grimace
which you drink the most, though coldest, though the most familiar
you prefer Cinzano with lemon, as we say, and right next to the station,
                                                                                   you dance
and pass out on narcissism and elegance
you seem to drink mango juice at the confectionary shop with a view of
                                                                                   the sea
a view of dolphins, floating cupcakes and cookies
you seem to juggle metal eyelashes in your ball of sweet stupidity
you seem to know me, maybe you or your swimsuit of smoky crystals had
                                                                                   known me,
your men's leather sandals seem to know me and respond
when I ask them about you now: nem tudom . . .

translated from the Romanian by Andrew K. Davidson