you are in the diode archives winter 2011




Between yesterday and tomorrow
I ride
this mare that doesn’t belong
to me, a mare I don’t comb
or feed.
She’s a stranger to me,
from somewhere other than this city,
and we share no common memories,
but she’s kept me on her back by force
all the night that’s gone by
and the day not quite ready to come.
             The dream spat me out
             with vigor
             with venom
             the way you’d spit out a fruit pit
             or an unwanted child.
And I arrived here on this horse’s glossy back
where I slide
as if on mud
but don’t fall.
The night clings to me,
it’s a breeze with little teeth
that sink into my skin and remain there.
The pain’s mild, but it continues on and on.
My heels don’t yet stick in the asphalt,
the trams don’t slice the cold air,
tomorrow’s facts still are ripening,
they’re draped beneath big bed sheets,
exhibits that have never opened.

At night, salamis are removed from the shop window
and stored in a secret location.
At night, the world and its salami slices
are moved elsewhere.
The same with the pastries that are my soul.
I too have to be in another place
—my body—an empty carcass
a shop window emptied every evening,
a container no one
absolutely no one
wants to steal.

But the dream spat me out.
I’m here
between the day that was and the one still to come.
The dream spat me out
like a hard, bitter pit.
Let it be.
It was an ugly dream.
Or I was the ugly one.
Between yesterday and tomorrow is a narrow space
as between the dresser and the wall.
I stand with my back
to yesterday’s sun,
to yesterday’s fear,
face to face with something that doesn’t yet want to open.
On this horse’s slick back until
the trams, the heels, the workers get a green light
and start going.


6 A.M.

Good morning, workers!
The factory whistles are summoning you. Your steps can be heard hurrying through the damp cold of the morning. The chill reminds you that you’re strong, so you’ve no desire to resist it. Your soft bodies, no longer saturated with the warmth of the bed, of the wife, your bodies obey you. How I’d like to tell you that you fall like dew on flowers!
When you get to your factories—the worker belongs in the factory, that’s his true place—you regain your gravity slowly. The first of your gestures to rediscover the lathe, the drill press, the workbench, all these gestures are still full of sleep, similar to your movements at night: in a very brief moment of wakefulness, not knowing which side of the bed you’re on, you begin to grope blindly with your hands until you find the wife and fall back asleep, in a hurry to continue the dream.
Here, before your workbench, you’re not allowed to fall asleep. Here you become heavier and heavier.
Good morning, workers!
The peasants have risen before you. The peasants are in the field much earlier to get ready for the spring plowing.



On the green lawn of the workbench blooms a flower of intense green.
It will humiliate you and whip you without mercy, for hours on end, until you fall to pieces and see its olive body, nearly gleaming, enticing, round, and very ripe.



For a long time sleep entered the same gate
into me and into her,
the same gate joy entered,
taste, smell, the softness of the cherries.
My heaviness was her heaviness,
my nails, her nails,
my air, her air.
The two of us dreamed the same dream,
we were one:
a woman who went through the streets
strolling, or by train, by bus.  


Svetlana Cârstean (b. 1969) published The Vise-Flower (Floarea de menghină) in 2008 to wide acclaim from Romanian critics; the book was awarded four major literary prizes, among them the Romanian Writers’ Union Prize for a first volume of poetry. A poem from this book appeared in Adam J. Sorkin’s Speaking the Silence: Prose Poets of Contemporary Romania, ed. and tr. with Bogdan Ștefănescu (Bucharest: Paralela 45, 2001).

Claudia Serea, a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995, has published translations of Romanian poets in magazines such as Exquisite Corpse, Ozone Park, International Poetry Review, Ezra, Zoland Poetry, and Oberon. Her own poems have appeared in the U.S. and Australia in numerous magazines, among them 5 a.m., Ascent, Connotation Press, Cutthroat, Meridian, Mudfish, The Dirty Goat, Harpur Palate, The Fourth River, The Istanbul Review, poetrybay, and poetryfish. Her collection To Part Is to Die a Little is forthcoming from Červená Barva Press.

Adam J. Sorkin recently published two books from the University of Plymouth Press, Ioan Es. Pop’s No Way Out of Hadesburg (2010) and Mircea Ivănescu’s lines poems poetry (2009), both translated with Lidia Vianu, and he is the main translator (with the poet) of Carmen Firan’s Rock and Dew (Sheep Meadow Press, 2010) as well as of the forthcoming anthology of Romanian poets of the 1990s and 2000s, Vanishing Point That Whistles (Talisman House, 2011).