The Romanian Riveter: POEMS by Mariana Gunță, translated by Antuza Genescu


life’s not an equation
when you pull her tail she doesn’t
break into a very long ‘muuu’
to reach the stars
life’s not an equation
when you hug her
you only feel dry skin on yours
& no argument
kilograms of hangover
explode our heads like a grenade
in a drainpipe
the equation is a string
of accusatives & nominatives
eat them for breakfast
& lick your fingers

you fell asleep with your back to me
like a broken jar of zacusča
I’m looking for you under the duvet
like a lifebuoy
the memories deflate
in the water bed
we sit here quietly
nothing crashes
in the morning we eat cereal
we play games with milk
& how we got here
as in the beginning of the world

the body’s asleep
as an expression
I’m more awake than ever
I’m more awake
& I hear rats nibbling
on human wrists
I hear the water boiling
& how a fly hits the window
I’m polishing the room
I see him get onto the chair
& how I slowly evaporate from my body
in a surplus of yellow wax
the body’s asleep
as an expression
the wind moves a little
nothing is more static
than this waking state

an outstretched hand catches the steam
that comes out of our mouths
she plays it with her fingers
like a puppet
until it evaporates
in small points
street dancers
they are swirling ghosts
we smile at them with our heads turned
they will do something tonight
they will manage to sneak in
between the bricks
& fall asleep

tomorrow we will be fishermen
old & poor
with jeans cut at the knees

our house is made of wood
with chairs, tables,
a library
wooden forks and spoons

we will fish
& we will sleep in the cold grass
our children will come out from under the floor
they will slowly open their eyes
we will light a campfire

we will grow so big that
we will take back with us
a sample from

By Mariana Gunță

Translated by Antuza Genescu

Read The Romanian Riveter in its entirety here.

Mariana Gunță (1994–2020) was a member of the Pavel Dan Literary Circle and published poems in some of the most important Romanian literary magazines. Her post-mortem debut collection will be published in the near future.

Antuza Genescu (b. 1968) is a freelance translator, teacher and writer. Besides several volumes of Romanian poetry and art albums, which she has translated into English, her work also includes translations into Romanian of various poets around the world (Sudeep Sen, George Szirtes, Fiona Sampson, Jean Portante, Alice Notley, Erkut Tokman, Kama Sywor Kamanda), as well as science fiction authors like Gene Woolfe, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Vernor Vinge, Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, Stephen King.

Category: The Romanian RiveterTranslationsSeptember 2020 – The Romanian Riveter


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