Mariana Codruţ


(a wheat field…)


a wheat field


even death

one cannot speak about

without enormous risks


and yet about freedom

freedom –


save our souls!



(upon hope...)


upon hope

upon manly songs

upon the drunken orgy of words

a terrible prosaic cold has descended.


we gathered near the walls

our faces deadly pale

in the suddenly acrid darkness


we offered up our prayer of faith.



Eulalie in the Summer Garden


from the solitary nest of swirling water Eulalie

the graceful and peerless progresses directly into the garden.

she presides over

groups of youths unregistered at the office

hence exceedingly free. she presides over groups

of youths exceedingly saddened by their

freedom. a splash of light falls upon them

from Eulalie

whom if first he hadn't met

Ermelinda Tuzzi Musil would have called

Diotima: she discourses with such conviction

about poetry about love and about

other such ineffables in a world

used to physical touch and the exclamation,

"that's it!"


as it happens I too believe in ineffables,

I couldn't not become close to Eulalie. but

(O Goddess, enhance my feeble powers!)

Eulalie had just been abandoned by her lover.

she would talk little, from time to time she eat

pieces of bread she tore from a basket

set right on the gravel of the garden.


the garden once had been a sea; when the sea


into the inner ear of the earth

four or five iron tables with chairs which

some contemporary writers were seated in

as well as a few readers

emerged into the light, not far away

a residue of water still remained where

the wind irresolutely herded

the remnants of a civilization of calico motley.

the wind

wasn't golden but could take a joke:

it would toss its heads –some private cosmos –

from left to right and from right to left

keeping the rhythm of the depths of the sea.


Eulalie would tear the bread and

give each of us a piece or two. her gesture

had the force of a conjunction - it bound us


so we were all eating plain bread

washed down, with small sips of vodka.

crumbs would gather

in the strands of her white hair shining defiantly

on her robe out of a Greek tragedy

but the gesture of shaking them off seemed as

impossible as making one's way back home

(while the latter seemed more impossible

than a journey to Siberia).


at the next table Sofian was reciting from Sofian.

when he stopped

a reader pulled out some notes and read:

"In love, the devil's own part

is purely and simply everything that is

not love. You will also sense his presence,

his immovable power,

behind the eyes

of the being devoid of love".


the question is (said a reader bluntly)

what right has the unloved

 to tell others about love?

the wind italicized the woman's words

with a temperamental blast: our plastic

glasses were blown over. we

shut our eyes, when the gust of wind

had passed we stared at one another:

we had faces of



kid leather

smooth mother-of-pearl


arcimboldian faces

and in the landscape, a pair of holes –

out of them a special light lifted high

its oversensitive apparatus, pitched its tents.

in the afterglow remained a world of fragments

like after the mysterious disappearance

of the gypsy camp

from the back alleys of my childhood,

leaving behind

colored potsherds and broken glass rags

and shells half-burnt

brushwood. - we all seemed circumscribed

between a point on the left and a point on

the right.

we seemed fragments

of a stammering elliptical discourse.


Eulalie - oh! Eulalie was so deeply sad

that her lover had abandoned her! we didn't

say anything.

we'd just bite our bread.

one of the boys at our table-

­like her lover the trumpeter –

had short-cropped hair: several times Eulalie

reached her hand

across the table and stroked

his bristly hair with such tenderness

that tears came to her eyes. we all

suddenly looked away as if

we'd surprised her in the act of love.


out of the blue the boy became furious

and turned to the reader's table: And you?

hypocrite lecteur

you who prefer the description of a landscape

to the landscape

and the narration of a drama to the drama -

who measure space in typographical signs

and time by the birth and death of the Character -

who live with Karenina's heart

until you find Susan's more enthralling

but eventually betray it for the throbbing

muscle of a valiant policeman –

whose side are you on? ART THOU AMONG



we went on eating bread washed down with

small sips of vodka.

after a while Eulalie read us a poem

and we ail felt the need to touch her with our


only the readers

fretting nervously on their chairs

scoffed at the expression "my red rage".

Eulalie wouldn't give them the time of day.


afterwards with her red rage yet intact

she dragged me along with her through

several bars

hugging the bread in her arms:

but nowhere was the trumpet to be heard.

it wouldn't tattoo the warm flesh of the May night with its shrieks.



Eulalie left me at a taxi stand.

with a hazy glance

of stupefaction

I followed her wavering silhouette

(as if she'd forgotten her center elsewhere)

splitting the light showers of the street.



 (love is permitted...)


love is permitted

provided that it bears fruit

and doesn't grow all-consuming

(it readily sinks into mysticism).


and withdrawal into oneself

is also tolerated

as long as it's performed

in an appropriate place

according to the proper schedule.

even death is permitted

but only if it comes without a fuss

and doesn't pass by

the city hall.



(from my corner...)


from my corner

like a uterus that refuses me

only death appears

worth the debate.



I cannot laugh


but where are we headed, the nightingale

goes on singing

in the huge belly of black felt.

fingers snap softly

ransacking the molasses light.

here are the tragic slums and the fields of fear.

the blood-red gleam

on distorted mouths. we stare

hypnotized by the gun aimed dispassionately

at the Latvias of the pink and white world –

those which exist and those which don't exist;

those whose moan of terror is cloaked

with tender slaps on the buttocks

and songs of praise;

those living under the sign of rape

blazing brightly on the white stars

(down with the pandering of the cosmos!)


I cannot laugh, guilty. I the dreamer

the helpless visionary, the gasoline can

with a beer-foam head. I the avenger

free as a horse

galloping in a text suffocated by parentheses.

guilty, pink and white

the Utopia of a slit

in the huge belly of black felt.


[poet's note: January 1991 - the bloody incidents provoked by Soviet troops in the Baltic states.]



(a wind of liberty is blowing...)


a wind of liberty is blowing

stripping our flesh to the bone -

once again nontransparent

we populate the black air of the public squares.


above us a June sky

enamored of metaphor

(the snails in the garden riding

tomatoes strawberries -

an ox-heart tomato freshly picked).


grant us the sky

and faith in you -

may the bountiful breast of hope

prove ample for us all.



(alive and warm...)


alive and warm in my heart is death, only death.

it fills my cells with blood; it lends color to my

cheeks flushed with hope; generously, it offers

me ecstasy; it impels me into the day as into a

warm sea: a hysteria of golden mud.


only it illuminates me. only its enchanted eye,

always trained upon me, can husk me from my

reason: I am a prey to sarcastic mornings and

soft nights, oh, the dreams of flesh and blood,

of nightmare and of snow, emptying me of my

feelings, my exhausting, stupid, natural feelings.


the ineffable and the stifling.

made pregnant by dreams, by the measureless

sight, my spirit becomes eternal.

ave, death!



(words are a boundless sky...)


words are a boundless sky.


I could say that all's well in heaven-

but here She comes

a propagandist for love:

hey, look, don't let yourselves be taken in

by the folkloric props.


words are a land

full of too many pledges.


I bathe in it

I send forth roots like a tuber

in the ground. I embrace the sun.-

but She is the sun

She a negotiated word

a rattletrap a uterus with auricles

and ventricles

impregnated solely by syntax.


Poems by Mariana Codruţ translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Radu Andriescu






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