God help us we’re at a standstill any form of glory any form
of boasting is over neither yellow nor green garbage men come by
we begin to understand how much we consume
i carved a window in the wall the wind knocked over an empty glass on the kitchen table and broke it this is the only form of activity here
a good opportunity to flinch when
no more buses pass by not even Bofrost frozen food trucks
no pretzel sellers no Fish & Chips no grannies with kids in strollers
no Gabors on the roofs no Turkish rug merchants the street seems much more kind-hearted much more fair-minded no mailman calls out no tax collector nobody puts up posters and ads nothing’s enough anymore I wash my face with yesterday’s coffee
could I finally get lucky? come on, it’d be too easy to have a virus change a woman’s destiny mom reaches me on the phone with news from home dad doesn’t wash his hands he goes to the pub out of spite he has a screw loose mom cries people have died here and they lie dead in their houses like in Italy no one comes to note the time of death
they don’t even give them the certificate to be mourned and buried like they should be
it’s a conspiracy against the elderly they invented the crown virus to avoid paying our pensions in the spring! I waste my breath explaining to her that in France there’s no more room in the morgues the dead are kept in skating rinks at least this way they can skip the qualifiers for the Olympic triple somersault
the fatal dernière chance while others give their last breath live streaming on FB with their final drops of strength the likes they get are the only oxygen tanks on the ward
lack of doctors and nurses and they call the vets for help
the truth always comes to light like wolves howling at the moon
no use to blame it on the state of the world’s healthcare system to tell her that I’m 100% sure there is no war or conspiracy against the third age
that it’s because of globalisation Europeanisation economic and political supremacy conflicts
the CIA the polymorphism and everything else but the kitchen sink
mom keeps at it: none of my business I have a garden to start
trees to whitewash vineyard to prune and spray
’cause work and only work is the way to keep our heads straight or the flowers and fruits will be lost to the attackers
I hang up the phone I hiccup.
French hammers are ringing outside the only sharp and orderly noise the Siegvo company has just started breaking our water pipes from six to six we have nothing to drink we are parched on parched land.
I look at the wax-sealed door
across the street the children lick the windows between the bars
like sorbet in summer after it slips its leash on the street
a dog pees happily on the quarantine fence.
By Rodica Draghincescu
Translated from by Diana Manole
Read The Romanian Riveter in its entirety here.
Rodica Draghincescu is a linguistics researcher, cultural expert, bilingual writer (Romanian-French), performance poet, and translator and has published twenty-two books in eight countries. Born in Timișoara, Romania, she has lived in Lorraine, France for the last 15 years. She was named the Amazon Warrior Poet of Romanian women’s poetry of the 1990s.
Diana Manole is a Romanian-Canadian scholar, literary translator, and the author of nine books of poetry and drama. Her poetry won the 2020 Very Small Verse Contest of the League of Canadian Poets. Her co-translations with Adam J. Sorkin of Emilian Galaicu-Paun’s selected poems won 2nd prize in the 2018 John Dryden Translation Competition.