Nine poems by Romanian poet Cătălin-Mihai Ștefan, translated from the Romanian by Radu Andriescu as part of World Poetry/Prose Portfolio [WPP], curated by Sudeep SenDonate Now
A blue, crepuscular light
A blue, crepuscular light that only I was able to see was rushing in,
creeping among the apartment buildings in the sky above the city that gave birth to me
and, either because only I could feel this rushing in,
or because the light you could see was of a different color,
one of them made you let off steam.
And then, as if by a miracle I disapproved, you disappeared through some gates
as completely as they were tall and heavy.
As if a mistery had been crushed under the feet
and eaten by the ten toes as if they were the mouths of piranhas.
From the moment she decided to forget the longing
with witch she hadn't managed to snatch the hook the holds your soul tight,
she was able to open her eyes only halfway.
She would see things tangled, from root to crown.
She would go to the ungerground and would let cars pass by fast.
Meanwhile, she would make up and put on mascara, knowing that you have the brush.
She would gather around vigils for people she barely knew.
She would let them revolve around her like birds of prey,
to give her water and lick her face,
like dogs rediscovering the taste of blood with their wolf tongues.
She just needed a place where she wouldn't find
a shoulder to fall asleep upon, when drunk or sober.
But you knew all that and you would stay behind.
Sneakily and silently, you would shove your hands inside her.
You would become as thin as an eel.
Once in a Lifetime Intimacy
You were dreaming yourself facing the window,
unaware of my most unexpected watch, from the depths of which
I was contemplating your nakedness, that was telling so much about me.
You were floating in an unexplainable silence, impossible to admit.
You turned over in the bed — only then did you get up from your dream —
and you noticed that there are only eyelashes all around,
without realizing whether they were burned by the light or if the grizzled ones were eyebrows,
but you knew that you couldn’t have gotten up but in another dream,
in another silence, about which even now you couldn't say
if it was of the kind that precedes happiness or comes after it.
With that silence, someday, I will lash at you.
The Memory of a Movement
His gaze was vibrating almost imperceptibly over the blouse from which she had extracted
her body, who knows when, in a corner of the room.
He caught the movement as if from her halcyon flesh,
in a never-ending fall.
He would catch her in her fall.
She was throbbing from all her seems.
The patterns were emanating her fresh smell and warmth.
Her blouse, a cobweb.
When she let him approach her from behind
When she let him approach her from behind,
he grabbed her endless hair, like a wooden waterfall split into soft splinters,
and wrapped his head with it.
The tips of her hair touched the toenails of her legs with trembling knees.
It was only then that, torn apart, he felt her shredded body.
He was watching her walking like that, barefoot
He was watching her walking like that, barefoot,
along the bright and burning tracks, tiptoeing towards the sunset,
until he couldn't see anymore her short, curly hair
that reined in her head, like an aura shaded with a 6B pencil.
She was bald and empty of anything that's earthly.
All was there for everyone to see, but it didn't matter anymore.
Images from the Depths of Winter
He was contemplating every touch of the snowflakes on your coat
and he was fascinated by the silence with which she would comprehend him,
and you were fascinated knowing how eager he was to brush them away but he would hold back,
aware of the unique pattern of the crystals feeling you.
Even now, in his memories, he is still holding back.
The Transparency of Limits
When he has got to love you
he realized that he had done it long before knowing you,
maybe since he was born,
maybe looking at you from the afterlife,
as if standing on the other side of the street and he asked her to come
right here, to name her.
That was the only way he could explain it.
The same way as in his nostalgic moments
he would stretch her across the floor until the margins became transparent
and he would sit Indian style on top of her, eyes shut.
Likewise, now, he filled the void.
You gather under your eyelids images of her
You gather under your eyelids images of her.
When you close your eyes you want your sleep to have only one end.
When you open them your eyeballs are rolled over.
In a last attempt, you think that you would like
to chew on her brain little by little — without her realizing or ever finding out —
to keep pieces of it between your teeth and, gnawing at them, to understand,
in a mild cadence, one or the other of her love’s flavors,
with which she lifts you over all the heavens.
The good news is that when it all ends,
your love will also flash before the eyes of the entire world.
One of them will flinch more than the others.
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