ARS AMANDI ‘Women are fruits. There are peaches, pineapples, hazelnuts ...’ (Paul Valéry) ... Nuts, too gathered into themselves, and pineapples, too scaly (and of an almost weird exoticism); as for the peaches, we know them from Renoir. What kind of fruit are you, though? Leaving aside the smooth apple, juicy strawberry, astringent quince, cerebroid walnut – and considering your subtle trecolori (the very same as those of Ireland and the Ivory Coast): the white of your smile, the almost-green of your gaze and the chestnut of your helmet of fine hair −, you rather remind me of the almond: dehiscent with difficulty, pubescent, lactescent ... The almond that, what nonsense, is called amande!
AMORE MIO Steam up Madam’s nails, one by one, minus those two on the fingers without precious stones, within a circle of yellow gold, silver or only red copper (greened by time). Steam up Madam’s nails with pale lunules, – and the one with the black spot that in the red nail polish looks like the yellow iris of the feline between two naps, the opening of an eye is stone. Moisten every stone from the slabs of madam’s nails as the tiles that are bathing in yellow steam in the morning, one by one, − play in her angle between two fingers, with scales, red at the tip. Don’t forget: there are ten red aces in a pack as opaque as stone; don’t let them be reversed in those two closed inside hands of the madam, − that sticks her nails, one by one, in the back of the hand, yellow. As you try, between your teeth, the yellow to reveal the red core of herself, tear Madam’s nails, one by one (not like a stone, but like a cherry), by turns, on both hands. Madam’s nails, ten minus two, fogged up, in a yellow dusk in late summer would give you as a gift so much red to write in fog, like in stone, the letters, one by one, of Amore mio ... One, maybe two, in red, like on a stone or on a yellow, will be Madam’s cipher.
FARFALLA AMOROSA Don’t forget, as evening falls, to make butterflies on her cheek, fluttering your eyelids: palpebral butterflies with two wings, semitransparent and frills of eyelashes, for which the insipid water of a tear takes the place of dew. Let them enjoy the tears, these unfaltering butterflies, which, in autumn, are thirsty for dew, turned to frost between the lashes that melts only if the eyelids flutter like ever more quicklied wings. Don’t stop fluttering, fluttering your wings, at dusk moistened by so many tears, that dry when you flutter your lashes on her cheek invaded by butterflies like a peach tree whose pearly eyelids are crammed full of dew. Bathe her peach bloom in dew, or in the rustle of these wings that blink the same way as eyelids without sleep, that you flutter on her cheek glistening with tears, that have not been poured from her own lashes. Rejoice because from lashes other than hers, with eyes in dew as clear as that from which the butterflies that ‘wear the caterpillar between their wings’, angelically, water themselves − when, in tears, dozens of eyelids dissolve superposed on an eye with radial lashes, with, at their tips only, tears, as heavy as the beads of dew that trickle slowly on the wings of swarms of betrothed butterflies ... Fluttering your lids and lashes like wings, on her cheek in the dew of lively tears, in the evening, make for her butterflies.
LI Li, unit for measuring distance, specific to the Middle Kingdom, consisting of 360 steps (=644.652 m), is apparently, the equivalent of the beat of the human voice. − After Lia walked the distance of one li, she said something; from the distance of one li, she said, she whispered something. I don’t know very well what Lia said, from the distance of one li ... But, she said something (that’s for sure), she whispered, mumbled something, which from the distance of one li, I should’ve heard. I should’ve heard what Lia said, from the distance of one li. I heard she said, but not what she said. Maybe Lia shouted, but the distance of one li has changed Lia’s shout into a whisper; it became a whispering, a murmur ... Maybe this li is not helpful for her: it doesn’t suit Lia’s voice ... Then, I turn around towards Lia, asking her the next question: ‘Lia, from one li, did you say something?’ I’m saying it in a low voice on purpose, I’m whispering it, I’m murmuring it. It’s strange that she can hear me. Only that she doesn’t answer the question itself, Lia, − saying to me, smiling, that one li was (and still is) a distance of 360 steps (=644.652 m) and that the same li would be the equivalent of the beat of the Chinese voice. ‘Lia, do you mean, and then I murmur, of the human voice ...’ ‘No, of the Chinese voice,’ she persisted. ‘A li,’ said, added Lia, anyway, ‘only in the Yellow Empire is a vocative standard.’
By Şerban Foarţă
Translated by Daniela Rai
Read The Romanian Riveter in its entirety here.
Şerban Foarţă, one of the most important Romanian poets, was born in 1942 and has worked as a poet for sixty years, and has published more than ninety books – of poetry, essays, literary criticism, prose, and translations.